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Burden of Proof

Tutorial on the crimes of stalking and harassment for New Mexico judges

Presumption of Innocence & Burden of Proof

As with every criminal offense, the prosecution bears the burden of proof in stalking and harassment cases. That burden is "beyond a reasonable doubt" with respect to each essential element of the offense.

Furthermore, as in every criminal case, the law presumes a defendant in a stalking or harassment prosecution to be innocent unless the fact finder, judge or jury, is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt. See Uniform Jury Instruction (UJI) 14-5060 (presumption of innocence statement). The presumption of innocence is one of the cornerstones of our criminal justice system.

UJI 14-5060 defines "reasonable doubt" as "a doubt based upon reason and common sense – the kind of doubt that would make a reasonable person hesitate to act in the graver and more important affairs of life." Thus, the state's burden is to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt only, not beyond all possible doubt.