Penalty for an Effort to Influence or Prevent Testimony in California

In People v. Fernandez (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 943, the defendant was convicted under Penal Code section 136.1, subdivision (b)(1), which prohibits an attempt to prevent or dissuade a victim from "making any report of that victimization to any peace officer or state or local law enforcement officer or probation or parole or correctional officer or prosecuting agency or to any judge." The only issue was whether a "report . . . to any judge" includes a victim's testimony at a preliminary hearing. The court held it does not. (Fernandez, supra, 106 Cal.App.4th at p. 945.) The Court in Fernandez rejected any attempt to blur the distinctions among the statutes comprising part I, title 7, chapter 6 of the Penal Code ( 132-141), "which establishes a detailed and comprehensive statutory scheme for penalizing the falsification of evidence and efforts to bribe, influence, intimidate or threaten witnesses." (Fernandez, supra, 106 Cal.App.4th at pp. 948-951.) The court pointed out: "When the Legislature intends to penalize an effort to influence or prevent testimony, or an effort to prevent the defendant from appearing in court, it does so explicitly." (Id. at p. 949.) The court noted that the Legislature did so in section 136.1, subdivision (a), among other provisions, whereas subdivision (b) does not mention courts or testimony. (Fernandez, supra, 106 Cal.App.4th at p. 949.)