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What's the Likely Sentence for Witness Intimidation and Assault?

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SoPerplexed | 20:26 Mon 17th Jan 2011 | Criminal
8 Answers
I was attacked by someone in retaliation for reporting an earlier assault by that person to the police. The neighbour has opted for a jury trial in the Crown Court.

The second assault resulted in a very minor injury (some scraped skin and bleeding, certainly not enough to be called ABH) but it was accompanied by threats of much worse violence in future if the person was convicted of the earlier assault. I was also held captive for about 10 minutes, getting shoved hard repeatedly whenever I made a move to escape. I think the prosecution will find it fairly easy to prove this took place, but we'll see.

Also, in the period between the first and second assault, the neighbour came to my home several times, demanding I come out and shouting threats. The first time it happened I was so frightened I called someone to come to my house to accompany me out safely, as the person had threatened to come back with people who would wait outside until I tried to leave (probably not a realistic threat, but it really rattled me). There were no witnesses to the later incidents, unfortunately. So, it might be harder to prove that the second assault/intimidation incident was the last in a series, but who knows.

Any idea of what sentence is likely to be handed down? That's assuming the prosecution is successful, of course.

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Oops, I edited that badly. When I say 'the neighbour' I mean my assailant (who was a neighbour).
Have you made the police aware of these latest happenings?
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Yes brenda, the upcoming trial is for the second assault and witness intimidation incident. I am just wondering what the sentence is likely to be.

Ironically, the person was not charged as a result of the first assault (insufficient evidence, I was told), but at the time of the second assault, they were still under investigation.
As an aside, do you have a video camera? It would be worth filming any future intimidation.
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Squarebear, I have moved away from where I lived then, and I will definitely be keeping my new address secret from the accused. In any case, the person is stupid but not so stupid that they would assault and threaten me while I held a camera to record it!

Anyone - any ideas on sentencing?
I assume that your attacker has been charged with Witness Intimidation and not just assault.

Witness Intimidation is a serious offence and carries a maximum sentence of five years custody. It is an “Either Way” offence which means it can be dealt with either at the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court. I note your assailant has opted for trial at the Crown Court. However, I doubt he would have been given the choice if the facts are as you describe. You will see from page 116 of this document (Magistrates’ sentencing guidelines):

http://www.sentencing...pdate_1__2__3_web.pdf

that where the offence involves threats of violence and deliberately seeking out witnesses the Magistrates are advised to send the matter to the Crown Court for trial and/or sentence.

This means that the guidelines suggest that the Magistrates’ sentencing powers (maximum six months custody) are insufficient and that a prison sentence in excess of this can be expected. However, judges are increasingly making use of suspended sentences and the final outcome may depend on other factors (such as whether your attacker has any previous convictions).
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New Judge: Yes, that’s right, my attacker was charged with both witness intimidation and common assault. I am pretty certain that the person ‘opted’ for a Crown Court trial (rather than having the choice made for him), but in any case, the matter will be tried before a Crown Court judge and jury. That is assuming it gets past the committal stage, which I understand is pretty much a given.

The offence definitely involved threats of violence in future (as well as the actual violence of the assault itself). The assault was opportunistic, as the attacker met me by chance. However, as I stated in my original post (third paragraph), there were incidents of threats and harassment prior to the assault. These will be harder to prove, I imagine, but who knows?

That’s a very useful link, thank you. I am not sure if I am interpreting it properly, but it would appear my attacker is going to get a custodial sentence if he is found guilty, although I do note your comment about suspended sentences.

Could you shed any light on the use of suspended sentences? Are there any guidelines about that?
The first thing to say is that judges and magistrates will only consider a suspended sentence if the offence would otherwise attract immediate custody.

There are many reasons why a defendant might be spared immediate custody. Some examples where a sentence may be suspended:

- If it is believed that the offence was “out of character”
- If the offender has a clean record
- If immediate custody would serve no useful purpose. (for example where an offender has a steady job which he would lose if sent to prison)

The decision is entirely a judicial one which will be taken by the magistrates or judge. A defendant has no “right” to a suspended sentence but the sentencing philosophy is to firstly decide whether the offence warrants custody and only then to investigate if there is justification for the sentence to be suspended.

If a suspended sentence is imposed it will be accompanied by one or more “requirements.” These can include supervision by the probation service, unpaid work, a curfew, or participation in a specific programme (for example, anger management or domestic violence). If any of the requirements are not met, or if any further offences are committed, the suspended sentence is likely to be activated.

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