man being arrested face downThis is my sixth post in a series addressing Peoria, Illinois crimes of stalking and harassment. My last article discussed understanding Illinois stalking laws. The crimes of stalking and harassment are commonly misunderstood. Most individuals do not understand what type of behavior constitutes criminal conduct for these crimes and how to defend against them if accused. Harassment and stalking are serious charges which carry significant criminal penalties. In this article I will discuss the legal considerations of defending against these types of charges. If you or someone you know needs assistance, then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

Illinois stalking or harassment charges usually rely on issues of fact resulting in a plea deal or trial

In most Illinois stalking or harassment cases, the charges are based on allegations made by the victim against the defendant. This means that it is usually one person’s word against another, unless there is corroborating tangible evidence. Suppose, for example, a victim filed a police report alleging that the defendant visited her home ten times in one night and that the defendant was subsequently charged with harassment. There is no video footage or GPS data showing the location of the defendant. The defendant adamantly denies this and claims he was asleep at home. The choice of whether to believe the victim or the defendant is a matter for a judge or jury because it is a question of fact.

Because these types of cases rely heavily on the testimony of the victim, they commonly end in a plea bargain or a jury trial. It is important that you are represented by a criminal lawyer who understands the rules of procedure and has experience trying such cases. At trial, your attorney may get the opportunity to cross-examine the victim. Negating the testimony of the victim is very important to your defense and to preventing a conviction. Additionally, an attorney will know how the evidence can be presented at trial and whether a plea deal would be worth taking in your specific case. It is imperative to get the advice of an attorney, before you proceed to trial, to know your options.

False or exaggerated allegations may be defended against at trial

It is not uncommon for false or exaggerated allegations to be made against a defendant in these types of cases. Many times, false allegations are made to gain an advantage in child custody or divorce proceedings. It is important to defend against these allegations even if you find them to be frivolous. When defending against false allegations, it is crucial to understand and use all legal tools available to you. An experienced criminal lawyer will know how to use evidence admissible in court to refute the allegations of the victim.

Corroborating evidence such as social media posts, text messages, or call logs can be used to undermine the credibility of the victim and support the defendant’s testimony. Additionally, phones and vehicles can give GPS data useful in establishing the location of the parties. This type of evidence can be effective at proving the false or exaggerated nature of the claims. As an example, a victim claims she was scared of the defendant because he sent 500 text messages to her over the course of one evening. If the defendant can show that the victim initiated half of those 500 text messages, this shows it was a mutual argument rather than criminal behavior. Knowing what type of evidence is admissible and how to use it in court is complicated. It is important that you hire an attorney knowledgeable about the rules of evidence and procedure to be prepared for a possible trial.

If you have been charged with stalking or harassment, then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria criminal defense attorney. As a former prosecutor, I am familiar with jury trials and our local court system. My office is ready to assist you. Contact my office today online or by phone to schedule an initial consultation.We also serve the cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. I serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Shuyler, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford. I also handle federal cases in Urbana.