In Florida, stalking is defined as maliciously and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking a person. Stalking is a First Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Aggravated Stalking can occur in three different ways. In the first, it is defined as maliciously and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking a person with the added element that there was an injunction or restraining order in place prohibiting the person from having contact with the alleged victim. The second type of Aggravated Stalking is maliciously and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking a person and making a credible threat intending to place the person or his or her immediate family in fear of death or bodily injury. It is not necessary that there be an injunction or restraining order in place for this type of Aggravated Stalking to be charged. This could include making death threats or threats to injure the person. The third type of Aggravated Stalking is maliciously and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking a person under the age of 16. Aggravated Stalking is a Third Degree Felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Florida law generally recognizes that to be “repeated,” the action has to take place at least three times, meaning that there must be three occurrences or more of following, harassing, or cyberstalking the individual to constitute stalking.
“Harassing” means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in that person. The conduct must serve no legitimate purpose.
“Cyberstalking” means engaging in repeated conduct to communicate words, images, or language through e-mail or some other electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person. This must also serve no legitimate purpose.
There are a variety of legal issues that arise with stalking charges, such as whether the conduct was in fact “repeated”, whether there was a legitimate purpose for the conduct, and whether the injunction was properly served and executed, among others. It is often helpful to hire an attorney as soon as one is arrested for stalking. The State Attorney’s Office reviews stalking charges prior to deciding whether or not to file the case and an experienced attorney can advocate on your behalf. This may result in no charges being filed or in misdemeanor charges being filed instead of felony charges. Once charges are filed, it is still imperative to have an experienced West Palm Beach criminal attorney to advocate on your behalf with the State, the Courts, and a jury.
If you have been charged for a crime, you need the top criminal lawyer in West Palm Beach. We may be able you help you fight your stalking charges, call the Law Offices of Richard Tendler today!