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Prosecution & Defense - Uncooperative Victim

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

Prosecution and Defense and the Uncooperative Victim

How the prosecution chooses to deal with an uncooperative victim during trial varies. The prosecutor might attempt to have the victim explain the lack of cooperation with questions designed to elicit the fears or apprehensions the victim is feeling. The prosecutor might attempt to refresh the victim's recollection by showing him or her a copy of the written statement to law enforcement or copies of telephone records as a means of increasing the level of detail in the testimony. For especially uncooperative victims, the prosecutor may attempt to have him or her declared as an adverse witness in order to subject the victim to impeachment comparing their earlier statements to the contradictory testimony being provided.

In contrast, the defense will make efforts to highlight weaknesses in the prosecution's case as a result of the victim's lack of cooperation. While the prosecution may attempt to explain or downplay an uncooperative or contradictory victim, the defense will attempt to show the existence of reasonable doubt as a result of the victim's testimony. Cross-examination of the victim would focus on the inconsistencies in statements and/or the lack of accurate or detailed recall about the conduct.