Building a Defense for Somerset Stalking Charges
There are many important steps that a Somerset stalking lawyer may take when building a defense for Somerset stalking charges. A lawyer can make a major difference in a person’s case by using their experience and knowledge to prepare a strong defense, which is why it is so important for a person to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure they can combat the charges against them.
In prosecuting a stalking charge, the state is required to meet and prove very specific legal and evidentiary elements in order to convict the defendant. Most importantly, the state must prove that the defendant acted in a malicious course of conduct.
To evaluate whether the state has such evidence, the defense attorney may look at the allegations and determine if the defendant’s course of conduct occurred over an extended period of time or if it was a one-time confrontation. At this stage, the attorney can also evaluate the defendant’s state of mind during the alleged stalking as the state must prove that the defendant acted maliciously, meaning that the state must prove that the defendant’s actions were specifically intended to place the victim in fear that he or she would be assaulted or killed. This evaluation is important because if the defendant had a confrontation with the victim absent of any malicious intent, his or her actions did not constitute stalking.
At this time, the attorney can also attempt to analyze and evaluate any motives that the victim may have in alleging a stalking crime. For instance, are the parties in the midst of a divorce? Are the parties contesting the custody of a child? Would the victim have any motive to make false accusations in order to gain better footing in a divorce or custody case? Such circumstances may help in the defense against stalking charges.
Finally, the lawyer can examine the specific facts of the alleged stalking. For example, the lawyer can evaluate the time and date that the actions allegedly took place and the locations of all involved parties at that time. If the defendant was nowhere near the victim during this timeframe, it is unlikely that he or she could have stalked the victim. In this way, a lawyer can look for and evaluate very specific legal and evidential elements while preparing a defense for stalking charges.
As an attorney prepares the defense for a stalking case, he or she will compile a significant amount of evidence. Primarily, the attorney can seek any evidence necessary to determine if the defendant was in the area at the time when the alleged stalking took place. At the same time, the attorney may look for evidence regarding the defendant’s intent. If there is evidence that can be compiled to show that it was not the defendant that committed the crime, or evidence that can show that the defendant did not have the necessary criminal intent, such evidence may significantly help the defendant’s case.
It is important to remember that, in a criminal case, the state has the burden of proof, meaning that the defendant does not necessarily have to prove anything because he or she is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. Therefore, sometimes the job of a defense attorney is not to compile evidence but to analyze and dissect what the state alleges it has as far as evidence and determine if there is an argument to be made in court that the state cannot prove every element of the offense. Under other circumstances, it is important for the defense attorney to compile actual evidence to support a defense such as a defensive alibi or lack of intent. Therefore, the defense attorney’s approach will vary from defendant to defendant, depending upon the specific facts of the individual case.
Taking a Plea
An experienced defense attorney may recommend that a defendant consider taking a plea when the attorney feels that it is in the best interest of the defendant to do so.
An example of such a situation would be if the plea offer included that the defendant would not serve any jail time or that the state would recommend probation before judgment. Under such circumstances, the defense attorney can recommend the plea only if the state could actually prove the offense. That is, after reviewing all of the evidence, an attorney could recommend that his or her client take a plea if the attorney believes that his or her client would be convicted of the alleged offense at trial and that the plea would be more favorable to the client.