Casey Introduces New Bill to Make Witness Intimidation a Federal Crime, Aid Local Police Departments

Casey Announces Introduction of State Witness Protection Act

New Legislation Will Provide Grants to Local Law Enforcement to Aid Witness Protection Efforts

Washington, DC – Today U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the State Witness Protection Act, a new law to make witness intimidation a federal crime and provide grants to local law enforcement to better protect witnesses. Casey’s legislation would also allow federal prosecutors to bring charges and set higher penalties for witness intimidation.

“Witness intimidation is a cowardly crime that has a chilling effect on the work of our region’s law enforcement,” Senator Casey said. “This legislation will give law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to combat witness intimidation. I’m hopeful we’ll get a bipartisan consensus to pass this legislation this year.”

Bill Summary

Provides resources to state and local governments for witness protection programs

  • Authorizes the Attorney General to make competitive grants to State and local governments to establish programs that provide protection or assistance to witnesses in:
    • Court proceedings involving homicide, serious violent felony, serious drug offense, gangs, or organized crime

Allows federal prosecutors to investigate and bring charges on witness intimidation

  • Makes it a federal crime to kill, attempt to kill, use physical force or the threat of physical force against, harass, intimidate or attempt to intimate, or offer anything of value to another individual, with the intent to:
    • influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of an individual in a State official proceeding
    • cause or induce a person to withhold testimony, a document or record; alter or destroy an object to be used in an official proceeding; or be absent from a State official proceeding
    • prevent or delay communication of information regarding the violation of the law by any person to a law enforcement officer or judge
    • retaliate against a witness for their attendance at a State proceeding or providing information to a law enforcement officer
  • Affects cases involving interstate or foreign commerce, either through communication, personal travel, or the transfer of a weapon

Sets tough new penalties for witness intimidation

  • Provides the same penalties that currently exist in federal court in the case of a killing of a witness, including the possibility of the death sentence
  • Increases the maximum penalty to 30 years imprisonment in the case of attempted murder or the use of physical force
  • Maximum of 20 years imprisonment for other violations under this legislation
  • Directs the United States Sentencing Commission to increase federal sentencing guidelines for obstruction

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April Mellody 202-228-6367