This is the next post in a series of articles discussing defending against stalking and harassment charges in Laredo, Texas. My previous post focused on cases in which charges are based on false claims. This often occurs in connection with ongoing divorce or custody disputes when one party seeks leverage over the other. Many individuals make the mistake of not taking false allegations of harassment or stalking seriously and believe fabricated charges will not result in criminal liability. Failing to defend oneself, however, can result in the accused becoming subject to a protective order, adverse impact on custody rights, misdemeanor or felony charges, jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record. I cannot overemphasize the importance of contacting a criminal defense attorney to help you resolve charges based on false claims. In this post, I will discuss what to expect should a stalking and harassment case proceed to trial. If you need assistance, contact my office to speak with a lawyer.
As in other criminal trials, the first step in a criminal trial for stalking or harassment is jury selection. Potential jurors are summoned for duty and questioned by the Judge to determine whether they are capable of being unbiased in their evaluation of the case. Based on their answers, the Judge may remove jurors from the pool. Attorneys for the prosecution and defense may also question the panel and are permitted to eliminate a certain number of potential jurors. No juror may be excluded solely because of their sex, race, ethnicity, or other potentially discriminatory reasons. Once the final jury is selected, attorneys for each side will present their opening statements, during which each side will provide an overview of their legal theories and key facts that will be presented during the trial. The prosecution, who must prove that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, will then present its case to the jury. This includes calling witnesses and presenting objective evidence in support of the allegations. The defense will then have an opportunity to present its case. When this phase concludes, the prosecutor and defense counsel will present closing arguments. Following closing arguments, the jurors will deliberate and, once they arrive at a decision, render a verdict.
Stalking and harassment cases are often resolved without the need to proceed to a criminal trial. Depending upon the facts of each case, charges may be dropped due to evidentiary issues or reduced in exchange for a plea deal with the prosecution. Cases that cannot be resolved and proceed to trial may involve false allegations that must be proven using witnesses and evidence to clear the accused’s name. For instance, an individual’s ex-spouse falsely accuses him of harassing her by following her every evening after work for a month. Disproving such claims may involve a variety of evidence. Evidence may include employment records demonstrating that he was at work during some of the evenings in question, credit card receipts with timestamps at a different location, or witness testimony that he attended other events. As with all trials, the evidence must be objective and presented in compliance with strictly enforced legal rules. A criminal attorney with trial experience will have the skills necessary to not only comply with the rules of evidence but also to communicate the facts and legal arguments clearly and effectively to the jury on your behalf.
If you have been accused of stalking and harassment, it is critical to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to represent your legal interests. My office is ready to assist you. Contact us today to speak with a Laredo criminal defense lawyer. My office also serves clients in other areas of south Texas.