STALKING AND CYBERSTALKING
A conviction for stalking, either a misdemeanor or felony, carries severe penalties that may cost you jail, hefty fines, probation, employment and your reputation. Gainesville and Ocala Stalking Attorneys Alavi, Bird & Pozzuto will compassionately listen to you, thoroughly investigate the state’s evidence and determine the best possible defense strategies to ensure positive results. Call (352) 732-9191 for immediate help. Our Criminal Defense Attorneys represent men and women charged with Stalking, Aggravated Stalking, Cyberstalking and other crimes involving allegations of harassment, violence, domestic battery or threats of violence. We can also help you respond to and defend Protective Injunctions or Restraining Orders.
Both the felony and misdemeanor version of “stalking” are serious criminal offenses with serious criminal penalties. Many of these cases also involve the alleged victim filing for an protective order or injunction against domestic or repeat violence.
Motivation to Make False Charges of Stalking or Aggravated Stalking
In many of these cases the allegations are false or exaggerated. These allegations may be motivated by a pending or anticipated custody battle or divorce action, or for financial reasons. In some cases, a person may want to remove the other person from living in or even going to a home or business.
Relationship Between the Alleged Victim and the Person Accused of Stalking
Stalking allegations are most commonly alleged between individuals who are “domestically” (related by blood, marriage or have a child in common). These type of domestic violence allegations can also arise between people who have previously lived together in a romantic relationship.
Even people who have previously dated each other or been romantically involved in a straight, gay or lesbian relationship can suddenly find themselves accused of “stalking” or “aggravated stalking” when the romantic relationship ends.
The allegations can also arise between people who are not related such as neighbors, roommates, friends, or business associates.
Florida’s Stalking Statute – First Degree Misdemeanor
Under Florida Statute 784.048, the offense of stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor. The criminal offense of “stalking” requires that the prosecutor for the State of Florida prove the following elements at trial:
The Defendant repeatedly, maliciously, and willfully did one of the following to the victim:
- Harassed, which means to engage in a course of conduct directed at the victim which serves no legitimate purpose and causes the victim substantial emotional distress; or
- Cyberstalking, which means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate or cause communication of language, words or images through the use of electronic communications or electronic mail which is directed at the victim, and serves no legitimate purpose, but instead causes the victim substantial emotional distress.
Florida’s Aggravated Stalking Statute – Third Degree Felony
Under Florida Statute 784.048(3), the offense of aggravated stalking is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years on probation or in Florida State Prison and/or a $5,000.00 fine. The felony version of stalking, called “aggravated stalking” requires the prosecutor to prove the offense of stalking plus that the defendant:
- Made a credible threat, which means a threat against the life of or a threat to cause bodily injury to the victim and the threat was made with the intent to cause the victim to fear for her safety; and
- The threat was made with the intent to place the victim in reasonable fear of bodily injury or death to the victim, or the victim’s child, sibling, spouse, or parent.
Many felony charges of aggravated stalking arise after an injunction or order of probation has already been granted. Related charges often involve an allegation of violation of a domestic violence injunction or allegations of violation of repeat violence injunction.