In the United States, there are 7.5 million incidents of stalking every year. Women are more likely to be stalked than men, but this is an issue that can affect people of any gender, race, age, and socioeconomic class. Although most people think they know exactly what stalking is, the truth is that there are several different actions and behaviors that can be considered stalking.
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 Code Section 784.048 breaks stalking into two categories: stalking and aggravated stalking.
Stalking is defined as ‘willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassing.’
Aggravated stalking is defined as ‘Willful, malicious and repeated following or harassing another with credible threats with the intent to place person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or willfully, maliciously, repeatedly follows or harasses minor under 16; or after injunction for protection or any court-imposed prohibition of conduct, knowingly, willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person.’
General stalking is considered a first-degree misdemeanor while aggravated stalking is a third-degree felony.
Stalking was once a difficult crime to prosecute, but the legal system has begun to take it very seriously over the last several years.
What Are The Penalties For Stalking?
Stalking is a punishable crime in the state of Florida. Those found guilty of stalking can face up to one year of probation, up to one year of stalking, a fine of up to $1,000, and a restraining order that can last up to ten years.
Aggravated stalking 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 the Tampa Bay area law enforcement. If you feel your digital security has been compromised as a result of being stalked, you should also change any necessary passwords and let your friends, family, and financial institution know that your accounts have been compromised.
What to Do If You’ve Been Accused of Stalking in The Tampa Bay Area
A stalking accusation should be taken very seriously. If you’ve been charged, it’s time to seek legal counsel. Be ready and willing to share all necessary information with your attorney so they can prepare the best defense for your case.
On the other hand, it’s also important to know what not to do if you’re facing a stalking accusation. Remember to avoid doing any of the following things:
- Do not communicate with the alleged victim for any reason.
- Avoid speaking to law enforcement without your attorney present.
Contact Fernandez and Hernandez Today
If you have been accused of stalking in the Tampa Bay area, Fernandez & Hernandez will provide a free consultation and discuss your situation. If you have been charged with stalking, the criminal defense attorneys at Fernandez & Hernandez will be able to help you. If you need legal assistance call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353.