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Exercise 11

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

The defendant is charged with stalking based on an incident in which he followed the victim as she drove from work to a friend's house late at night. The defendant tailgated the victim for about 20 miles. This caused the victim to reach speeds up to 70 mph on a curvy, dark mountain road, all the while being tailgated. The defendant flashed his bright lights and honked his horn at times during the incident. When the victim arrived at her location, the defendant drove off. The victim screamed and cried for several hours, repeatedly yelling that she thought the defendant was going to kill her. Defense counsel moves to dismiss the stalking case.

How should the judge rule?

A. Deny the motion because the defendant's action of following the victim is one of the statutorily provided methods of stalking under §30-3A-3(A)(1), and also because the extreme emotional reaction of the victim meets the statutory elements.
Answer A is incorrect. Following the victim and the emotional impact it had upon her are both included in the stalking statute, §30-3A-3(A)(1). However, regardless of the dangerousness of the defendant's action and the severity of the impact it had, the defendant's tailgating cannot be viewed as a "pattern of conduct" as required for stalking. Section 30-3A-3(A) specifically states that regarding the three methods of stalking, the stalker must commit one or more of those acts "on more than one occasion...." Here, there is a single incident.
B. Grant the motion because the incident at issue, although terrifying and dangerous to the victim, does not fit within the statutory elements of stalking under §30-3A-3(A).
Answer B is correct! Following the victim and the emotional impact it had upon her are both statutorily included in the stalking statute, §30-3A-3(A)(1). However, regardless of the dangerousness of the defendant's action and the severity of the impact it had, the defendant's tailgating cannot be viewed as a "pattern of conduct" as statutorily required for stalking. Section 30-3A-3(A) specifically states that regarding the three methods of stalking, the stalker must commit one or more of those acts "on more than one occasion...." Here, there is a single incident.
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