It is imperative to the functioning of our criminal justice system that no interference occurs with witnesses testifying or jurors serving in a trial. Along this vein, Illinois lawmakers describe several offenses relating to this sort of obstruction in this portion of Article 32 of the Illinois Criminal Code.
Even communicating with jurors or witnesses can be considered a crime. The first offense discussed in this section is communicating with jurors or witnesses, which occurs when a person contacts a juror or witness with intent to influence their behavior in a court of law. Depending on the nature of the offense, a violation qualifies as either a Class 3 or Class 4 felony.
Likewise, it is also a crime to harass a juror or witness, as well as their family members. Defined here, family members refer to a spouse, parent, child, or stepchild. Depending on the nature of the harassment, a conviction may simply qualify as a misdemeanor, but in other cases it is a felony.
When bribery occurs in our system of law, it can be disastrous for the procedure of justice. In Article 32, lawmakers prohibit the bribery of several groups of people. First, it is illegal for a jury commissioner, or someone who provides courts with a list of eligible jurors, to excuse a certain individual from jury duty in exchange for a bribe. If a defendant is convicted of this crime, he has committed a Class 3 felony and is no longer eligible to serve as a jury commissioner. It is also unlawful for a juror or witness to accept a bribe prior to judgment or verdict. These crimes qualify as either Class A or Class B misdemeanors. Lastly, it is illegal to bribe a judge in order to procure a favorable verdict; a violation is a Class 2 felony.
Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been charged with interfering with a juror or witness in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.
The text below comes from Article 32 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 32
Sec. 32-4. Communicating with jurors and witnesses.
(720 ILCS 5/32-4)
(a) A person who, with intent to influence any person whom he believes has been summoned as a juror, regarding any matter which is or may be brought before such juror, communicates, directly or indirectly, with such juror otherwise than as authorized by law commits a Class 4 felony.
(b) A person who, with intent to deter any party or witness from testifying freely, fully and truthfully to any matter pending in any court, or before a Grand Jury, Administrative agency or any other State or local governmental unit, forcibly detains such party or witness, or communicates, directly or indirectly, to such party or witness any knowingly false information or a threat of injury or damage to the property or person of any individual or offers or delivers or threatens to withhold money or another thing of value to any individual commits a Class 3 felony.
(c) A person who violates the Juror Protection Act commits a Class 4 felony. (Source: P.A. 94-186, eff. 1-1-06.)
(720 ILCS 5/32-4a) (from Ch. 38, par. 32-4a)
Sec. 32-4a. Harassment of representatives for the child, jurors, witnesses and others.
(a) A person who, with intent to harass or annoy one who has served or is serving or who is a family member of a person who has served or is serving (1) as a juror because of the verdict returned by the jury in a pending legal proceeding or the participation of the juror in the verdict or (2) as a witness, or who may be expected to serve as a witness in a pending legal proceeding, or who was expected to serve as a witness but who did not serve as a witness because the charges against the defendant were dismissed or because the defendant pleaded guilty to the charges against him or her, because of the testimony or potential testimony of the witness or person who may be expected or may have been expected to serve as a witness, communicates directly or indirectly with the juror, witness or person who may be expected or may have been expected to serve as a witness, or family member of a juror or witness or person who may be expected or may have been expected to serve as a witness in such manner as to produce mental anguish or emotional distress or who conveys a threat of injury or damage to the property or person of any juror, witness or person who may be expected or may have been expected to serve as a witness, or family member of the juror or witness or person who may be expected or may have been expected to serve as a witness commits a Class 2 felony.
(b) A person who, with intent to harass or annoy one who has served or is serving or who is a family member of a person who has served or is serving as a representative for the child, appointed under Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act or Section 2-502 of the Code of Civil Procedure, because of the representative service of that capacity, communicates directly or indirectly with the representative or a family member of the representative in such manner as to produce mental anguish or emotional distress or who conveys a threat of injury or damage to the property or person of any representative or a family member of the representative commits a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) For purposes of this Section, "family member" means a spouse, parent, child, stepchild or other person related by blood or by present marriage, a person who has, or allegedly has a child in common, and a person who shares or allegedly shares a blood relationship through a child. (Source: P.A. 93-108, eff. 1-1-04; 93-818, eff. 7-27-04.)
(720 ILCS 5/32-4b) (from Ch. 38, par. 32-4b)
Sec. 32-4b. A jury commissioner, or any other person acting on behalf of a jury commissioner, who requests, solicits, suggests, or accepts financial compensation or any other form of consideration in exchange for a promise to excuse or for excusing any person from jury duty commits a Class 3 felony.
In addition to any other penalty provided by law, any jury commissioner convicted under this Section shall forfeit the performance bond required by Section 1 of "An Act in relation to jury commissioners and authorizing judges to appoint such commissioners and to make rules concerning their powers and duties", approved June 15, 1887, as amended, and shall be excluded from further service as a jury commissioner. (Source: P.A. 84-1428.)
(720 ILCS 5/32-4c)
Sec. 32-4c. Witnesses; prohibition on accepting payments before judgment or verdict.
(a) A person who, after the commencement of a criminal prosecution, has been identified in the criminal discovery process as a person who may be called as a witness in a criminal proceeding shall not accept or receive, directly or indirectly, any payment or benefit in consideration for providing information obtained as a result of witnessing an event or occurrence or having personal knowledge of certain facts in relation to the criminal proceeding.
(b) A violation of this Section is a Class B misdemeanor for which the court may impose a fine not to exceed 3 times the amount of compensation requested, accepted, or received.
(c) This Section remains applicable until the judgment of the court in the action if the defendant is tried by the court without a jury or the rendering of the verdict by the jury if the defendant is tried by jury in the action.
(d) This Section does not apply to any of the following circumstances:
(1) To the lawful compensation paid to expert witnesses, investigators, employees, or agents by a prosecutor, law enforcement agency, or an attorney employed to represent a person in a criminal matter.
(2) To the lawful compensation or benefits provided to an informant by a prosecutor or law enforcement agency.
(2.5) To the lawful compensation or benefits, or both, provided to an informant under a local anti-crime program, such as Crime Stoppers, We-Tip, and similar programs designed to solve crimes or that foster the detection of crime and encourage persons through the programs and otherwise to come forward with information about criminal activity.
(2.6) To the lawful compensation or benefits, or both, provided by a private individual to another private individual as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of specified offenders.
(3) To the lawful compensation paid to a publisher, editor, reporter, writer, or other person connected with or employed by a newspaper, magazine, television or radio station or any other publishing or media outlet for disclosing information obtained from another person relating to an offense.
(e) For purposes of this Section, "publishing or media outlet" means a news gathering organization that sells or distributes news to newspapers, television, or radio stations, or a cable or broadcast television or radio network that disseminates news and information.
(f) The person referred to in subsection (a) of this Section may receive written notice from counsel for either the prosecution or defense of the fact that he or she has been identified as a person who may be called as a witness in a criminal proceeding and his or her responsibilities and possible penalties under this Section. This Section shall be applicable only if the person referred to in subsection (a) of this Section received the written notice referred to in this subsection (f). (Source: P.A. 90-506, eff. 8-19-97.)
(720 ILCS 5/32-4d)
Sec. 32-4d. Payment of jurors by parties prohibited.
(a) After a verdict has been rendered in a civil or criminal case, a person who was a plaintiff or defendant in the case may not offer or pay an award or other fee to a juror who was a member of the jury that rendered the verdict in the case.
(b) After a verdict has been rendered in a civil or criminal case, a member of the jury that rendered the verdict may not accept an award or fee from the plaintiff or defendant in that case.
(c) A violation of this Section is a Class A misdemeanor.
(d) This Section does not apply to the payment of a fee or award to a person who was a juror for purposes unrelated to the jury's verdict or to the outcome of the case. (Source: P.A. 91-879, eff. 1-1-01.)
(720 ILCS 5/32-4e)
Sec. 32-4e. Interfering with the duties of a judicial officer. (a) A person may not give or offer to give benefits, promises, pecuniary compensation, or any other form of compensation, either directly or indirectly, to a judicial officer or a member of the judicial officer's immediate family with the intent to: (1) induce such judicial officer to do, or fail to do, any act in violation of the lawful execution of his or her official duties; or
(2) induce such judicial officer to commit or aid in the commission of any fraud, or to collude in, allow, or make available the opportunity for the commission of any fraud on the State of Illinois.
(b) A person may not give or offer to give benefits, promises, pecuniary compensation, or any other form of compensation, either directly or indirectly, to court employees and staff with the intent to interfere with the administration of the judicial process.
(c) Sentence. A person who violates this Section commits a Class 2 felony. (d) Definitions. For purposes of this Section: "Judicial officer" means a justice, judge, associate judge, or magistrate of a court of the United States of America or the State of Illinois.
"Immediate family" means a judicial officer's spouse or children. (Source: P.A. 95-1035, eff. 6-1-09.)
(720 ILCS 5/32-4f)
Sec. 32-4f. Retaliating against a Judge by false claim, slander of title, or malicious recording of fictitious liens. A person who files or causes to be filed, in any public record or in any private record that is generally available to the public, any false lien or encumbrance against the real or personal property of a Supreme, Appellate, Circuit, or Associate Judge of the State of Illinois with knowledge that such lien or encumbrance is false or contains any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation, and with the intent of retaliating against that Judge for the performance or non-performance of an official judicial duty, is guilty of a violation of this Section. A person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense. (Source: P.A. 95-1035, eff. 6-1-09.)