Stalking and Aggravated Stalking
Stalking involves willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person.
Aggravated stalking involves 1) stalking that involves a credible threat; or 2) stalking that occurs after the subject obtains an injunction for protection; or 3) stalking that involves a child under the age of 16 years.Definition of Stalking and Aggravated Stalking in Florida
The crime of Stalking, as defined by § 784.048, Florida Statutes, occurs when a person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.
The State’s attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime of Stalking by establishing that the following element of the crime occurred:
(1) The defendant willfully, repeatedly and maliciously followed, harassed or cyber stalked the victim
This means that the State of Florida must prove the defendant knowingly, intentionally and purposely engaged in a course of conduct directed at a specific person causing substantial emotional stress to that person with no legitimate purpose.
The crime of Aggravated Stalking, as defined by § 784.048, Florida Statutes, occurs when a person stalks another person and makes a credible threat to that person, or the person being stalked was under the age of 16; or the person being stalked had an order for protection.
The State’s attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime of Aggravated Stalking by establishing the crime of stalking (described above) and one of the following elements of the crime occurred:
(2) The defendant made a credible threat towards the victim
This means that the State of Florida must prove the defendant (a) guilty of stalking and (b) there was a credible threat that placed the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their family or close acquaintances and that the stalker had an apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause harm. The State’s attorney does not have to prove that there was an intent to carry out the threat.
(3) The victim was under the age of 16 years
This means that the State of Florida must prove (a) the defendant guilty of stalking and (b) the person targeted by the stalking was under the age of 16 at the time the stalking occurred.
(4) The victim had an order for protection against the defendant
This means that the State of Florida must prove (a) the defendant guilty of stalking; and (b) that the victim had a valid order for protection against the defendant at the time the stalking occurred; and (c) that the defendant knew an order had been entered against the defendant.
It is not necessary for the State to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat.Penalties for Stalking and Aggravated Stalking in Florida
Stalking is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one (1) year in prison and a fine of up to $1000, as provided in § 775.082 and § 775.083, Florida Statutes.
Aggravated Stalking is a third degree felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine up to $5000, as provided in § 775.082 and § 775.083, Florida Statutes.Defenses of Stalking and Aggravated Stalking in Florida
- A constitutionally protected activity such as picketing or other organized protests
- If the communication is solely made for a legitimate pursuit, such as legal, business, or child custody matters
- The threat was not credible
- Making numerous repeated unwanted phone calls
- Sending numerous repeated unwanted text messages
- Sending multiple unwanted gifts or letters or notes
- Continuously driving by the person’s house or place of work
- Knowingly violating an order for protection
- Stalking a child under the age of 16 years even if not aware of their age
If you have been charged with the crime of Stalking or Aggravated Stalking in Broward, Palm Beach, or Miami-Dade County, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away to ensure your rights are protected. The Law Office of Sean Clayton, P.A., can help you better understand your situation and your options. Contact us today for your free consultation.