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Evidentiary Issues - Uncooperative Victim

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

Issues Regarding an Uncooperative Victim

It is fairly common for a victim not to fully cooperate in a stalking or harassment prosecution. This is a situation also seen in domestic violence cases. The reasons why a victim of stalking or harassment backs away from fully cooperating with a prosecution include the following:

  • Concerns or fears about angering the accused by cooperating in the prosecution;
  • Concerns or fears about increased stalking or harassment or an escalation to physical violence or other criminal offenses from the defendant as a result of involving law enforcement and/or cooperating in the prosecution;
  • Not truly wanting to see the accused prosecuted, but rather hoping instead that simply reporting to law enforcement will stop the conduct;
  • Fear, embarrassment and concerns over aspects of the victim's personal life being exposed in the public setting of a courtroom;
  • Fear, confusion or a lack of understanding about the processes, procedures and roles of the judge, law enforcement, the prosecution and defense counsel;
  • Situations where the victim did not actually experience stalking or harassment but used such allegations to retaliate against or embarrass the accused for some reason; and
  • Reconciliation with the accused where the victim and the accused have some sort of ongoing relationship with each other.

These reasons can affect how victims testify or whether they will voluntarily make themselves available during the investigation or trial. Even when present for trial, the victim might testify that he or she involved the police simply because they wanted the accused to leave their residence or quit the repeated conduct, not because they wanted the accused prosecuted. The victim might testify to a lack of recall about some or all instances of alleged conduct. Still another possibility is that the victim's testimony may differ significantly from prior statements to law enforcement. Finally, the victim might downplay altogether the impact of the stalking or harassing or even express support for the accused.