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. Section 784.048, Florida Statutes, breaks stalking into two categories: stalking and aggravated stalking.
Stalking occurs when a person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person. The offense of stalking is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
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. The offense of aggravated stalking is a felony of the third degree.
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.
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.
The sentencing court shall consider, as a part of any sentence, issuing an order restraining the defendant from any contact with the victim, which may be valid for up to 10 years.
What Are the Penalties for Stalking?
Stalking in Florida is punishable by up to one-year of incarceration and 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, and a restraining order that can last up to ten years.
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 accused of or charged with stalking or aggravated stalking, it’s time to seek legal counsel. Be ready and willing to share all necessary information with your attorneys so that they can prepare the best defense.
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.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for stalking you may be able to get the case dismissed. The state must prove that a crime was committed and that you are the one who committed the crime. It is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer and determine whether you are entitled to request that the case be dismissed. A hearing may be the difference between dismissal of the charges and jail time.
Why Fernandez & Hernandez?
If you or someone you know has been charged with stalking in the Tampa Bay area and needs help, Fernandez & Hernandez will guide you through the process and may be able to assist you in getting the outcome you deserve. If you or a loved one would like to challenge the charge, call Fernandez & Hernandez for a free consultation now.
Stalking cases can be complex. The attorneys at Fernandez & Hernandez are bilingual and will provide a free and confidential consultation so that you can discuss your situation. Fernandez & Hernandez can help you understand all of your options and may be able to help you find a solution.
Tampa Criminal defense attorney Daniel J. Fernandez has experience with stalking cases and will work diligently to get your situation resolved. Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez can help guide you through the process. If you need legal assistance with a stalking case call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at (813) 229-5353.