Statute on jury tampering likely hinges on intent

Published 5:27 pm Thursday, August 7, 2008

by Jeff Byrd

The definition of jury tampering is given in Chapter 14 of the N.C. Criminal Code.

Section 14-225.2, titled &dquo;Harassment of and communication with jurors,&dquo; says a person &dquo;is guilty of harassment of a juror if he:

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

&dquo;With intent to influence the official action of another as a juror, harasses, intimidates, or communicates with the juror or his spouse.&dquo;

The statute defines &dquo;juror&dquo; as &dquo;a grand juror or petit juror and includes a person who has been drawn or summoned to attend as a prospective juror.&dquo;

A violator of this statute is guilty of a Class H felony, according to the statute.

However, a local attorney interviewed said that most law derives from a reading of the cases, a legal analysis of the determination of judges and juries in all prior cases, and not from a simple reading of the statute.

Further, the attorney said, the legal basis of a violation would likely hinge on &dquo;the intent to influence.&dquo; If there were no &dquo;intent,&dquo; it might be less likely that a criminal violation of the statute would be found..