In Florida, stalking is considered a crime of violence. Stalking is a serious offense in Florida, and can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. Often in a stalking charge a protective order or injunction is issued, in conjunction with statutory penalties.
Following, harassing, and cyberstalking a person repeatedly can result in criminal charges. A stalking offense can lead to life changing consequences. Penalties include expensive fees, protective orders, and even possible incarceration.
If you or someone you know has been charged with stalking or aggravated stalking, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Fort Pierce Attorneys for Stalking in Florida
Have you been charged or arrested for stalking, cyberstalking, or aggravated stalking in the Treasure Coast area? A stalking offense can be considered difficult to defend in court. Hiring a skilled defense attorney can greatly increase the chances of reducing or dismissing your charges entirely.
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell excel at formulating sturdy defenses for their clients. Our attorneys have over 20 years of collective experience in Florida’s criminal courts. Additionally, the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell are compassionate with clients. We value open communication, and strive to support you through every phase of the case.
Meltzer & Bell accept clients throughout Martin County and St. Lucie County including Port St. Lucie, Jupiter Island, Stuart, and Fort Pierce.
Call today at (772) 291-2534, or simply submit an online contact form for a free consultation.
Overview for Stalking in Florida
Definitions for Stalking under Florida Law
Stalking is a criminal offense in the state of Florida. Florida Statute § 784.048(2) defines the offense of stalking as “a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.”
Florida law defines the act of “harassing” as to engage in a course of conduct directed to a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress to the victim. The emotional distress serves no legitimate purpose for the victim.
A “course of conduct” in Florida, is defined as a pattern of conduct, which is composed of a series of acts over a period of time, which evidences a continuity of purpose. A legal course of conduct does not include any harmless acts, such as bickering. In the case of stalking, a course of conduct normally includes threats, harassment, following, or other types of behavior that creates emotional distress.
The word “cyberstalking” may seem foreign to some. Cyberstalking is when a person engages in a course of conduct to communicate words, images, or language through the use of electronic mail or communication for the purpose of creating substantial emotional distress that serves no legitimate purpose. Normally cyberstalking will include negative comments on social media, persistent messaging, or other forms of harassment over digital platforms.
Penalties for Stalking in Port St. Lucie, Florida
Conviction for a stalking offense carries heavy penalties. The crime of stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. A first-degree misdemeanor offense includes the maximum legal consequences of up to one year in jail, one year in probation, and a possible fine of up to $1,000.
In addition to statutory penalties, the alleged victim may seek an injunction of protection. A protective order, otherwise known as a “restraining order,” is a set of legal restrictions the alleged offender must follow. In some cases, a temporary protective order can be issued without any kind of hearing. A protective order can limit a person’s ability to travel, live in a shared dwelling, possess a firearm, and other restricting conditions.
Aggravated Stalking in St. Lucie County, Florida
The offense of stalking can be elevated if certain aggravating factors come into play. There are three types of aggravated stalking crimes in Florida. Penalties for an aggravated stalking offense are reliant on the circumstances of the offense.
Aggravated Stalking with Credible Threat
Florida Statute § 784.048(3) outlines the elements a person must commit if he or she is to be convicted of aggravated stalking. The elements for aggravated stalking include:
- If a person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly;
- Follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person; and
- Makes a credible threat to the alleged victim.
If convicted for aggravated stalking, the legal consequence is a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years probation, and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
In Florida, a “credible threat” is defined as a verbal or nonverbal threat that places the alleged victim in reasonable fear for his or her safety. The threat can be made in any kind of communication including digital and mail. In addition, the threat can be made out to family members or individuals closely associated with the victim. The alleged offender is not required to fulfill the proposed threat to be charged.
Aggravated Stalking of a Person Under 16 Years Old
The penalties for aggravated stalking can be enhanced based on whom the stalking is directed towards. If the stalking targets a minor, under the age of 16 years old the legal consequences are enhanced.
Aggravated stalking of a person under the age of 16 years old is a felony of the third degree. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
Aggravated Stalking after an Injunction or No Contact Order
In many cases, a stalking offense will result in an injunction or no contact order. If these are violated, the alleged offender will be charged with aggravated stalking. A person who commits aggravated stalking after an injunction or no contact order will face a third degree felony.
A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a possible fine of up to $5,000. In addition, absent grounds for a downward departure sentence, aggravated stalking will result in a mandatory prison term. The minimum of this mandatory prison term is 21 months.
National Center for Victims of Crime – Visit the official website for the National Center for Victims of Crime, a non-profit organization that uses it’s ability to inform professionals, organizations, and systems to effectively respond to stalking. Find resources, information, and stories about survivors of stalking in the United States.
Following the Crime of Stalking – Visit the official website for the Florida Bar, and read an article by Jospeh G. Jarrett about the crime of stalking. Find more information about the Florida Statute, the different types of stalkers, and Abused Women Active Response Emergency (AWARE) system in Tampa, Florida.
Lawyer for Stalking Offenses in Martin County, FL
Are you currently struggling with stalking allegations? Are you unsure on what you are going to do next? If so, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Having an attorney on your side can help you formulate a sturdy defense for your stalking case.
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell are well versed in stalking and other violent crimes in Florida. We understand that there are two sides to every story. Our attorneys are compassionate with clients. Florida criminal courts system can be daunting. Gain a passionate and experienced attorney on your side. Contact Meltzer & Bell today.
Meltzer & Bell accepts clients throughout the 19th Judicial Circuit of Florida including Jupiter Island, Stuart, Fort Pierce, and Port St. Lucie.
Dial us today at (772) 291-2534, or simply submit an online contact form for a free consultation.
This article was last updated on September 5, 2018.