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Witness intimidation to be a federal crime

Witnesses are often indespensible when it comes to prosecuting drug crime cases in Pennsylvania. They provide direct and genuine testimony that helps prosecutors. Ultimately, they are needed to get dangerous people off the street.

For these reasons, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is proposing a bill that would make witness intimidation or harassment a federal crime. While witness intimidation is already a crime in Pennsylvania, Senator Casey's legislation would focus on prosecuting people who cross state lines to contact witnesses.

With the use of social media and cellular communication, interstate witness intimidation has become a national issue. He noted the Philadelphia Inquirer's  recent report on the number of witnesses in criminal cases that have been murdered. As such, the legislation would create federal funding to relocate witnesses or otherwise protect them in their current locales.

Casey introduced similar legislation to Congress last year, but it was unsuccessful at the commitee level. He insists that it did not pass out of lack of support, but instead was defeated by other priority items.

Time will tell as to whether Casey's bill will win the required support. Other congressmen have tried to garner support for witness protection to no avail. Former Senator Arlen Specter had done so years ago, and Representatvie Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) had won support for such a bill in the House. However, Cummings' bill was defeated in the Senate.

The legislation against witness intimidation underscores the seriousness of drug crimes in Pennsylvania, and the need for experienced legal counsel in these instances. 

Source: Philly.com, Senator Casey strives to make witness intimidation a crime, April 28, 2013

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