Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Man Threatens to Harm Witness with Burning Pentagram in his Georgia Family Violence Case 

Posted by Richard Lawson | Aug 03, 2018 | 0 Comments

Russell Layton is facing charges in Hall County to which he has pled not guilty. Layton has now been accused of threatening a witness in his case. He is now facing a slew of charges in addition to the charges already indicted. 

Layton is facing charges of:

Layton has been accused of telling a witness in his case that he would cut her up into pieces. He then allegedly called and texted her between April and May of 2017 threatening her if she testified and didn't recant her claims. He also allegedly used a burning pentagram to terrorize and threaten her.

Everyone is entitled to a fair trial, and the acts of threatening and influencing witnesses disrupts that fair trial requirement. This is a serious crime in Georgia, and as a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will outline the law behind this offense in today's post.

Influencing Witnesses in Georgia

The Georgia Code defines influencing witnesses in Georgia as:

(a) A person who, with intent to deter a witness from testifying freely, fully, and truthfully to any matter pending in any court, in any administrative proceeding, or before a grand jury, communicates, directly or indirectly, to such witness any threat of injury or damage to the person, property, or employment of the witness or to the person, property, or employment of any relative or associate of the witness or who offers or delivers any benefit, reward, or consideration for such witness or to a relative or associate of the witness shall will be guilty of influencing witnesses.

(b)(1) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to use intimidation, physical force, or threats; to persuade another person by means of corruption or to attempt to do so; or to engage in misleading conduct toward another person with intent to:

(A) Influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding;

(B) Cause or induce any person to withhold testimony or a record, document, or another object from an official proceeding, alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the object's integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding, evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness or to produce a record, document, or other object in an official proceeding; or be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process; or

(C) Hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer, prosecuting attorney, or judge of this state of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a criminal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings. O.C.G.A. §16-10-93.

Violating any portion of this statute is classified as a felony in Georgia. If convicted of violating section (a), the penalty can include imprisonment of one to five years. If convicted of violating section (b), the penalty can include imprisonment of two to ten years and a fine between $10,000 and $20,000. 

Practice Note

Being accused of violating O.C.G.A. §16-10-93 is a serious accusation. A Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney can defend a wrongful accusation. There are Georgia Criminal Defenses that apply to an influencing witnesses charge. These defenses include but are not limited to:

  • Lack of Intent 
  • Mistaken Identity
  • No Intimidation
  • No Physical Threats

If you or a loved one is charged with committing a crime in Georgia, contact us today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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