Accused of Stalking in Florida?
These days, virtually every state has enacted laws against stalking and harassment. Here in Florida, the statute criminalizing stalking can be found under Section 784.048 of the Florida Statutes. Not only does the law make it a crime to harass and stalk someone, but it also makes it illegal to engage in cyberstalking.
Under Sec. 784.048, harassment is the act of engaging “in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.” The statute goes on to describe a “credible threat,” which is a verbal or nonverbal threat, including threats sent over electronic communication, such as a text message, a direct message, and so on.
What is a Credible Threat?
What counts as a credible threat? Sec. 784.048 defines it as, “... a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her 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.”
Does the victim have to prove “intent” to prevail? The law does not require that the stalking victim prove that the person who made the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat against them. What’s more, if the person making the threat is currently incarcerated, that does not bar the individual from being prosecuted under Florida law.
Generally, the offense of stalking is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. However, in more serious cases, the offender can be charged with aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000, and up to five years in prison.
Accused of stalking? If so, you could be facing serious criminal charges. To protect your freedom and your future, contact my firm for a free case evaluation.