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Stalking

Stalking / Aggravated Stalking

Stalking arrests occur when an individual engages in a repeat course of conduct that's designed to cause a substantial amount of emotional distress in another. Although typically misdemeanors, stalking charges can quickly become serious felonies when the repeated conduct/harassment is accompanied by a threat of harm that places the victim in fear of death or bodily injury. In those circumstances, "stalking" can quickly turn into "aggravated" stalking.

Defending such charges requires a keen understanding of the law and a solid investigation of the victim's claims and the state's case. Remember, to be considered stalking, there must be a repeated course of conduct, and there must be a "credible" threat of harm to sustain the enhanced version of aggravated stalking. Often times claims of "stalking" are inflated by the victim with respect to the threat of harm and the quantity of acts alleged to have been committed and persons who are not guilty of a Florida stalking charge are arrested every day. Our Jacksonville, Florida based criminal defense attorneys can evaluate the case to determine if the alleged victim's claims coincide with this very technical statute. Stalking charges usually occur when there are allegations of domestic violence, or when "stalking" is being used as a basis for a temporary injunction for protection against violence. Arrests for stalking are simply a way for partners to excises power or get leverage for a breakup or divorce.

Stalking is also the most common reason cited for those seeking injunctions for protection, also known as protective orders. We prosecuted and defend those matters often, and you can learn more about that area of our practice here. If you need legal services to defend yourself from a stalker or to defend yourself from a Florida stalking arrest, call the criminal defense attorneys at Arnold Law Firm. Put our combined more than 25 years of criminal law experience to work for you!

FLORIDA'S STALKING LAWS

784.048 Stalking; definitions; penalties.

(1) As used in this section, the term:

(a) "Harass" means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.

(b) "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct." Such constitutionally protected activity includes picketing or other organized protests.

(c) "Credible threat" means a threat made with the intent to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety. The threat must be against the life of, or a threat to cause bodily injury to, a person.

(d) "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.

(2) Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(3) Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person, and makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury of the person, or the person's child, sibling, spouse, parent, or dependent, commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(4) Any person who, after an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence pursuant to s. 784.046, or an injunction for protection against domestic violence pursuant to s. 741.30, 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 as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(5) Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks a minor under 16 years of age commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(6) Any law enforcement officer may arrest, without a warrant, any person he or she has probable cause to believe has violated the provisions of this section.

(7) Any person who, after having been sentenced for a violation of s. 794.011, s. 800.04, or s. 847.0135(5) and prohibited from contacting the victim of the offense under s. 921.244, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks the victim commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(8) The punishment imposed under this section shall run consecutive to any former sentence imposed for a conviction for any offense under s. 794.011, s. 800.04, or s. 847.0135(5).

History.--s. 1, ch. 92-208; s. 29, ch. 94-134; s. 29, ch. 94-135; s. 2, ch. 97-27; s. 23, ch. 2002-55; s. 1, ch. 2003-23; s. 3, ch. 2004-17; s. 3, ch. 2004-256; s. 17, ch. 2008-172.

Updated as of September 1, 2009.

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