I am an avid watcher of television legal dramas—although I can’t say whether that is because of or in spite of my profession. Even so, it is easy for me to pick up on the unrealistic portions of those shows: the ease of gathering evidence, the speed with which perpetrators are caught, the overall swiftness of the trial—the entire process usually being completed within 45 minutes. I also tend to pick up on some of the more realistic, practical aspects of the shows: the differing types of offenses, the potential constitutional issues that may arise, and the corollary offenses that attach during the process.
One of the most common and possibly most overlooked corollary offenses is witness intimidation. The perpetrators almost always engage in some sort of interference but are rarely charged in the shows. That may be because there is already so much content to fit within a 45-minute time frame. But in real-world practice, it could also be because witness intimidation is not always as straightforward as one might think. This post analyzes North Carolina’s witness intimidation law as proscribed by G.S. 14-226, as well as other issues and nuances that may arise in this context.