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Evidentiary Issues - Alleged Victim

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

Evidentiary Issues Pertaining to the Alleged Victim

Regarding the victim, evidentiary issues can be raised and argued with respect to his or her testimony. Issues might also arise regarding evidence from other witnesses pertaining to their involvement with and observations of the victim.

The Victim's Testimony

Stalking and harassment must always consist of a pattern of conduct, not a single, isolated incident. Another statutory element involves the impact the pattern of conduct had on the victim. See, e.g., §30-3A-2 (harassment must be such that it causes a reasonable person substantial emotional distress); §30-3A-3(A) (stalking would cause a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated or threatened). Also, as with any criminal case, there must be evidence somehow identifying the accused as the perpetrator of the offense. The victim's direct testimony on these matters is typically what the prosecution seeks to introduce in its case-in-chief.

The prosecution's goal in presenting the victim's testimony is for the victim to provide as much detail as possible concerning the methods of harassment or stalking, the frequency with which it took place, and the impact it had upon him or her. The level of detail provided by the victim and the persuasiveness of that testimony depend on many factors such as the following:

  • whether the testimony is recalled exclusively from memory or whether the victim documented the specifics of the harassment or stalking with dates, times, locations and other information; and
  • the degree to which the victim is cooperative or uncooperative during his or her testimony.