Fundamentals of Stalking Laws in Florida
Interactions and relationships with other people can be complex, and in recent years there has been a lot of discussion in the Florida Legislature about the type of stalking and unwanted attention that can be considered a criminal offense, as well as the various degrees of penalties that should be involved.
If you have been accused of stalking or repeatedly making unwanted contact or threats against another person, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.
Defining Stalking in Florida
As a general rule, stalking means engaging in multiple malicious and willful acts of harassment against another person. To fully understand the statute and what criminal charges it may entail, you need to understand how some of the terms of the statute are defined.
- Harassment: Harassment is described as conduct that is aimed at a specific person that has no legitimate purpose and causes the target emotional distress.
- Credible Threat: This is a threat that is made either verbally or nonverbally that makes the target fear for their own safety or the safety of those closest to them.
- Cyberstalk: This is an electronic form of communication and can be in the form of words or images to cause a person emotional distress without any legitimate purpose.
Depending on the behavior in question, the charges a person can face may include any or all of the above actions.
Punishment for Stalking
Based on the behavior in question, Florida stalking may result in misdemeanor or felony charges. When a person maliciously, willfully, and repeatedly cyberstalks or harasses another offense, the stalking charge will most likely be considered a first-degree misdemeanor. A crime of this nature is punishable with a fine up to $1,000, as much as a year behind bars, and up to one year on probation.
If a person commits aggravated stalking, this means that they have maliciously, willfully, and repeatedly cyberstalked and harassed a person as well as made credible threats to the victim. This is considered a third-degree felony and may be punished with a fine up to $5,000, five years in prison, and five years of probation.
If a person violates a protection order that is related to sexual or domestic violence by cyberstalking or stalking, this is also considered aggravated stalking and is punishable by the same penalties as aggravated stalking. Cyberstalking or stalking a child less than 16 years of age is also categorized as aggravated stalking and a third-degree felony.
Defending Against Stalking Charges
When it comes to facing charges for stalking, there is no substitute for an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our attorneys will work to create the best possible defense for you. There are numerous defenses we may use, but they may include the following:
- The First Amendment: If you were engaged in an activity that could be considered a constitutionally protected activity, such as picketing or protesting, it is not stalking.
- Legitimate Purpose: If the communication you had with the victim was for a legitimate purpose such as legal matters, business, or child custody, it will not be considered stalking, even if the communication was heated.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing stalking charges, let the team at Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, ensure that your rights are protected and advise you of your legal options. We may be able to get the charges against you reduced or even dismissed. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.