Defense Against Stalking Offenses
If you have been charged with stalking, you need to understand just how serious the charges against you are. Stalking is either a misdemeanor or felony, and can cause you your job, your status within your community, and even your freedom. Over 7.5 million Americans experience some form of stalking every year, either physical stalking or over the internet. In fact, one in six women will experience stalking at some point in her life, according to Safe Horizon. Stalking often goes hand in hand with domestic violence, and the legal system is keen on coming down hard on those who have histories of domestic abuse.
Under Florida statute 784.048, stalking is defined as willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person. An example of stalking would be to show up uninvited at someone’s place of work day after day, or to follow them in a car to and from work. Stalking is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Aggravated stalking is essentially the same thing as stalking, except with the added stipulation of making a credible threat to that person. An example of aggravated stalking would be to repeatedly leave threatening notes at someone’s doorstep. Aggravated stalking is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Cyberstalking can be a form of stalking or aggravated cyberstalking depending on whether or not the defendant is charged with making a credible threat to the alleged victim. Cyberstalking involves communication with any word, image, or language via electronic mail or electronic communication. This includes:
- Social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Snapchat, Tinder, and more;
- Phone calls;
- Phone voicemails;
- Text; and
Cyberstalking also includes accessing or attempting to access the other person’s online accounts or Internet-connected home electronic systems without their permission and causing “substantial emotional distress” while serving no legitimate purpose.
Stalking and Restraining Orders
Stalking may result in the person filing for a restraining order, which requires that you keep your distance from them, potentially up to 500 feet, do not attempt to contact that person in any way, and even surrender your firearms. Violating a restraining order is a criminal offense, and can result in a first degree misdemeanor. Moreover, if you are convicted of stalking or convicted of violating a restraining order due to stalking a former intimate partner who has custody of your child, you could face further restrictions on visitation rights and future custody rights.
Contact Our Port St. Lucie Stalking Defense Attorneys Today
Whether you have been charged with stalking or are under investigation for stalking, you need to call a lawyer now. For immediate defense, reach out to our Port St. Lucie criminal attorneys at Baginski Brandt & Brandt at 772-466-0707 to schedule a free consultation today. We urge you to act now and take the necessary steps to protect your rights while you still can.