Tailoring Conditions of Release
Thus, the judge should impose conditions of release which are tailored to address, and ideally curtail, the specific conduct alleged in the criminal complaint. Such conditions would be in addition to the standard, commonly seen release conditions set forth in almost all criminal prosecutions. The following list of conditions of release is designed to be illustrative of both general and specific conditions which judges should consider imposing in stalking and harassment cases:
- That the defendant not commit a federal, state or local crime during the release;
- That the defendant not have any contact with the victim as well as any potential witness in the case. In order to impress upon the defendant the seriousness of the no contact order, the court should consider tailoring it even further to affirmatively address the alleged methods of stalking or harassing on which the criminal case is based. For example:
- To refrain from telephoning or emailing the victim if either or both of those methods of contact are alleged, as well as refraining from all other methods of contact;
- To refrain from following the victim in the specific method(s) alleged, as well as by any other means;
- To refrain from conducting surveillance of the victim by the specific method(s) alleged, as well as by any other means;
- To refrain from all of the foregoing patterns of conduct with respect to the victim's household members as well, if the victim is fearful for the safety of household members or concerned about them becoming the focus of the defendant's actions;
- That defendant adhere to a specific curfew if, for example, the conduct took place in the evenings or in the middle of the night;
- If applicable, to cease knowingly engaging in conduct in violation of a permanent or temporary order of protection. See, §30-3A-3.1(A)(1)(one form of aggravated stalking);
- If applicable, to refrain from being in possession of a deadly weapon and to not use any object as a deadly weapon. See, §30-3A-3.1(A)(3)(one form of aggravated stalking);
- To refrain from either any, or excessive, consumption of alcohol, prescription drugs above prescribed dosages, and all illegal drugs, if there are allegations that the stalking and/or harassing was done while under the influence or is exacerbated by the consumption of such substances.
- In cases where the defendant and victim know each other and perhaps must have contact with each other, a condition of release could specify that any contact is limited exclusively to that which is absolutely required, such as for transferring children from one parent to the other in shared custody situations. The court might also consider specifying that any required contact take place in some supervised arrangement, perhaps with a third-party being present.
Tailoring the conditions of release to address the specific alleged conduct as well as addressing the potential for new forms of inappropriate conduct can be beneficial for the victim. The victim may be more likely to feel as though he or she were taken seriously and that the judge and prosecutor had a real understanding of the situation and its impact upon the victim.