Stalking is a semi-violent criminal offense in Florida. We’ve all heard of Hollywood stars and professional athletes dealing with stalkers due to their constantly being in the limelight. However, this is an allegation that occurs quite often in Florida involving regular people in the course of their normal daily activities. Generally, this allegation coincides in some fashion with allegations of voyeurism and domestic violence. A typical scenario our Tampa criminal lawyers have dealt with several times is the splitting of a romantic couple. One individual wants to move on, the other wants to work it out. Often things intensify and someone gets accused of stalking the other which in turn is generally related to some accusation of domestic violence or voyeur type activity. Each Tampa criminal attorney in our firm has both prosecuted and defended individuals accused of this crime. From these experiences we know that these charges are not always the easiest charges to prove and often are the unfortunate byproduct of a simple misunderstanding. Because this allegation can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the nature of threat, it is of utmost importance to retain a knowledgeable Tampa criminal lawyer. Our attorneys are familiar with these allegations as levied against our clients and the collateral issues that accompany them. Get us and move on from this allegation.What Does Stalking Mean and What Is It?
Pursuant to Florida Statute 784.048, stalking occurs when an individual maliciously, willfully, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person. In performing one or more of these actions, that person could be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in the county jail.
If someone maliciously, willfully, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person, and makes a credible threat to that person, then they could be charged with a third degree felony count of aggravated stalking which is punishable by up to 5 years in the Florida Department of Corrections and a $5,000 fine.
Florida defines “harassing” as engaging in a course of conduct that is directed at a specific person which causes that person substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose.
A “credible threat” is a threat which is verbal, nonverbal, or a combination thereof, including threats delivered electronically or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places that person in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm.
The term “cyberstalk” found in the Florida criminal code 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.How Can We Help?
Unfortunately, all too often an individual will make a police report claiming someone is stalking them when they are not at all. Given the wrong investigating officer or State Attorney, valid communication in a not so friendly manner can turn into a bogus allegation of this crime. Our Tampa criminal attorneys are well versed in showing that the communication served a legitimate purpose and therefore cannot be classified as this specific crime. Just because someone suffers emotional distress does not mean they are being stalked if the source of the communication has a legitimate reason for communicating. This is frequently the case between parents battling for custody or visitation. If the communication is harassing but it is for the legitimate purpose of retrieving or seeing their child, we can make a case that there is no stalking present. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Tampa, contact our law firm at 813-444-7435 for a free consultation. We’re ready to help.