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How do prosecutors decide to drop or press charges in stalking cases?

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In this brief instructional video – one in a series of training videos on stalking sponsored by the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC) – a prosecutor examines how prosecutors decide whether to drop or press charges in stalking cases. 


This issue is addressed in the video by Jane Anderson, a prosecutor and Attorney Advisor for AEquitas, a nonprofit organization with the mission of improving access to and quality of justice in gender-based violence and human trafficking cases. Regarding the prosecutorial decision to drop a stalking charge, this is likely to occur when the stalking charge is linked with other serious charges associated with the victim-defendant interaction, such as intimate partner violence or sexual assault. These offenses are more likely than the stalking offense to have physical evidence and third-party witnesses and potential sentences for such offenses are sufficiently severe without having to prove the stalking offense. Prosecutors are more like to press a single charge of stalking when third-party witnesses have observed the stalking behavior. This is more likely if the stalking offense occurs in public or at a workplace. Charges are also more likely if there is physical evidence of the stalking, such as photographs and computer or phone digital evidence of stalking actions. Stalking cases are difficult to prove when the evidence is only testimony by the alleged victim about the defendant’s stalking behavior without third-party witnesses or physical evidence of the stalking. Prosecutors are likely to drop charges in such cases.