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Famous names involved in Florida stalking arrests

Charges were recently filed in two high-profile Florida stalking cases involving celebrities. In one case, the celebrity was the person allegedly being stalked, and in the other, she is the one accused of stalking.

A Trump daughter

A homeless man was arrested at a golf tournament in the Miami area, accused of posing as a reporter to enter the golf course VIP area and get close to Ivana Trump, daughter of Donald Trump. The man acknowledged that he wants to marry Ms. Trump, according to police.

The same man had showed up several times at Ms. Trump's apartment building in New York City and at the Trump Tower, looking for her. He was arrested in New York on misdemeanor charges after crashing an event at Macy's, where a line of fragrances under the Trump name was being launched.

After posting bail, he traveled by bus to Florida, where Ms. Trump was likely to be found at the golf tournament. He now faces misdemeanor criminal contempt charges in Florida for violating a restraining order. Bail was set at $40,000.

A tennis star

In the other celebrity stalking case, retired pro tennis player Jennifer Capriati was summoned to appear in a Palm Beach County court to answer misdemeanor stalking and battery charges.

Prosecutors claim that Ms. Capriati, who was angry with her ex-boyfriend after a breakup, punched him several times at a health club shortly after they broke up in February 2012.

The ex-boyfriend called police a number of times over the next year, claiming that Ms. Capriati had made off with his sunglasses and phone, harassed him at work and in a parking lot, and followed him. In December 2012 and January 2013, she allegedly texted him 283 times over a 15-day period.

Stalking defined

Under Florida law, criminal charges for stalking can be filed against someone who has been harassing another person. "Harassing" means engaging in conduct that is directed at a specific person, serves no legitimate purpose, and causes substantial emotional distress. In order to be considered stalking, the conduct must not be constitutionally protected behavior, like picketing.

Florida law explicitly defines cyberstalking, conduct that uses e-mail or some other electronic medium to send messages that serve no legitimate purpose and cause substantial emotional distress. A skilled defense attorney can help a person who is accused of stalking, thoroughly investigating the facts and constructing a defense strategy. It is important to have an experienced advocate when charged with this offense.

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