Judge reading paper on benchThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing defending against stalking or harassment charges in Peoria, Illinois. My previous post addressed how to respond to situations in which one is falsely accused of stalking or harassment. It is imperative to defend yourself from the accusations, even when fabricated, to avoid the potentially serious consequences that may result. An experienced criminal attorney can help prepare your defense. In this post, I will discuss what one may expect in court if a stalking or harassment charge proceeds to trial. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

The first step in a criminal trial for stalking or harassment is jury selection. Potential jurors are summoned for duty. The Judge will question the “jury pool” and remove jurors whose answers indicate that they are incapable of being unbiased in their evaluation of the case. Attorneys for the prosecution and defense may also question the panel and are permitted to eliminate a certain number of potential jurors based on their answers. Jurors may not be removed solely because of their sex, race, ethnicity, or other potentially discriminatory reasons. Once the selection is finalized, the prosecutor and defense counsel begin the trial by each presenting their respective 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 will then present its case, which includes calling witnesses and presenting objective evidence in support of the allegations. The defense will then have an opportunity to present its case. After both sides conclude, 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.

As in any trial, the evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense attorney will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of the case. Because stalking and harassment can occur in a variety of ways, evidence for either side can take numerous forms. For example, if an individual is accused of harassing a victim by sending repeated text messages and emails, the prosecution may present extensive phone records, computer records, and excerpts from the messages in support of the allegations. Defense counsel, on the other hand, may have additional information, such as phone records, social media posts, or surveillance videos demonstrating that the accused was actually responding to the accuser’s initial communications. In a stalking case when the defendant is accused of following the victim, defense counsel may have travel records or work records proving that the accused was elsewhere at the time of the alleged events. A criminal attorney with trial experience will have the skills necessary to communicate the facts and legal arguments clearly and effectively to the jury.

Retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney in harassment or stalking trials is essential. As a former prosecutor, I understand how the state approaches stalking and harassment cases. I understand how to challenge the state’s case and what evidence, if any, might be needed to refute it. Contact my Peoria office today to speak with a lawyer. We also serve clients in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington and the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford. Additional areas where we handle federal cases include Benton, Chicago, East St. Louis, Springfield, and Urbana.