People often think of “stalking” as hiding on someone else’s property or following them without their consent. But there are actually numerous behaviors besides these which Florida state law defines as unlawful stalking of another person. If you have been accused of anything that meets the state’s definition of this offense, you need to understand how the court is likely to approach your case so you can construct a strong defense tailored to your unique situation.
During a private consultation, an Orlando stalking lawyer could go into detail about how exactly how these charges work and what you can expect from the criminal process. Then, your dedicated domestic violence defense attorney could advocate for your rights and pursue the best possible resolution to your case that minimizes its long-term effects on your life.
As per Florida Statutes § 784.048, someone commits the crime of stalking if they “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly” harasses or follows someone in real life or over the Internet. Doing so over the internet is referred to in the same section of state law as “cyberstalking.” To qualify as “harassment” in this context, a defendant’s actions must have been part of a continuous “course of conduct” which had no legitimate purpose and which caused significant emotional distress to the person they were targeting.
The basic version of this offense is categorized as a first-degree misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year of jail time and/or probation, as well as a maximum $1,000 fine. However, there are cases where an alleged talker makes a “credible threat” towards that person which puts them in reasonable fear of suffering imminent physical harm themselves or of a family member or friend. If so, the offense may be elevated to “aggravated stalking,” a third-degree felony with a five-year maximum prison term and $5,000 maximum fine attached to it.
Aggravated stalking can entail stalking someone who is under 16 years old, stalking someone in violation of a valid court injunction granted to the targeted person against the perpetrator, or stalking someone after having previously been convicted of sexual battery or other similar offenses against the targeted person. An Orlando stalking attorney could provide more information about the definitions for this offense under state law during a private consultation.
To convict someone of simple or aggravated stalking in Florida, a prosecutor must establish the defendant fulfilled every condition of the offense defined under state law. Many successful defense strategies for stalking charges revolve around proving that one or more crucial elements of stalking as a criminal offense was not present. Examples may be showing that the defendant did not engage in a “course of conduct” constituting harassment, or they did not cause substantial emotional distress to the person they allegedly targeted.
It is worth noting that activities which are protected by the First Amendment, such as picketing, cannot be considered part of a course of conduct constituting criminal stalking. Once again, speaking with a skilled defense lawyer can clarify what options a defendant might have to fight back against stalking accusations in Orlando.
Stalking allegations can do substantial damage to your personal and professional reputation even if they do not result in a criminal conviction. Being found guilty of stalking can be even more catastrophic, as you may be subject not only to severe criminal penalties but also a mandatory restraining order lasting at least 10 years.
Put simply, this is not a situation you should try handling without a capable Orlando stalking lawyer on your side. Call The Umansky Law Firm today to discuss your options with a criminal defense attorney.
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