What you need to know if you have been the victim of stalking or if you have been charged with stalking.
- “Harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.
- “Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose. The term does not include constitutionally protected activity such as picketing or other organized protests.
- “Credible threat” means a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm. It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat. The present incarceration of the person making the threat is not a bar to prosecution under this section.
- “Cyberstalk” means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.
A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to one-year incarceration.
A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person and makes a credible threat to that person commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years incarceration.
A person who, after an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence, or an injunction for protection against domestic violence, or after any other court-imposed prohibition of conduct toward the subject person or that person’s property, knowingly, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years incarceration.
A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks a child under 16 years of age commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years incarceration.
See Florida Statutes, Section 784.048.
Whether you believe you’re being stalked or have recently been accused of stalking, it’s important to know what stalking is and what can be done about it. Here is your guide to understanding Florida stalking laws.
What Is the Legal Definition of Stalking in Florida?
There is much more to stalking than having an unwanted person lurking in the shadows. Florida Statutes, Section 784.048. breaks stalking into two categories: stalking and aggravated stalking.
Stalking is defined as a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.
Aggravated stalking is defined as willful, malicious and repeated following or harassing another with credible threats with the intent to place a person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or willfully, maliciously, repeatedly follows or harasses minor under 16; or after an injunction for protection or any court-imposed prohibition of conduct, knowingly, willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person.
What Are the Penalties for Stalking?
General stalking is considered a first-degree misdemeanor while aggravated stalking is a third-degree felony. Stalking in Florida is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a restraining order that can last up to ten years. Aggravated stalking in Florida is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
What to Do If You Believe You’re Being Stalked in the Tampa Bay Area?
If you believe you’re being stalked and are in immediate danger, the first thing you should do is contact law enforcement. Also, you may want to contact a competent, experienced criminal defense attorney to help you seek a temporary and permanent injunction against stalking.
What to Do If You’ve Been Accused of Stalking in the Tampa Bay Area?
A stalking accusation is a serious matter. If you’ve been accused of stalking, it’s time to seek legal counsel. It is important to know what not to do if you’re facing a stalking accusation. Avoid doing the following:
- Do not communicate with the alleged victim for any reason.
- Avoid speaking to law enforcement without your attorney present.
Should I Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you or a loved one have been the victim of stalking in the Tampa Bay area you may hire an attorney to represent you in the matter. Stalking can be a scary, confusing, and seriously dangerous matter. A criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the process.
If you have been accused of stalking in the Tampa Bay area you may need the assistance of an attorney to get a favorable resolution of the matter. A criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the process and avoid incarceration.
Why Fernandez & Hernandez?
Florida’s stalking laws are complicated. To learn more about the Florida stalking laws and your rights contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Fernandez & Hernandez.
The attorneys at Fernandez and Hernandez have experience defending individuals in stalking situations and will work vigorously to protect your rights. The criminal defense attorneys at Fernandez & Hernandez can help you understand all of your options and welcome the opportunity to interview with you. Our Tampa attorneys Daniel J. Fernandez and Martin J. Hernandez are bilingual and can help guide you through the process.
Contact a criminal defense lawyer at Fernandez & Hernandez and request a free consultation. Our firm has represented clients in this situation. Many of these proceedings have resulted in a favorable resolution.
If you or a loved one have been stalked or accused of stalking in the Tampa Bay area and would like to find out what your options are, call Tampa criminal defense lawyer Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353 for a free consultation.