If you are facing criminal charges for stalking & harassment, do not wait to contact our law firm and begin building a case to prove your innocence. You have too much to lose. Our team of stalking lawyers, including former prosecutors, will work tirelessly on your case, ensuring that you have the best defense possible and helping you to achieve the best outcome in a court of law. For a free case evaluation, call Weinstein Legal today at 954-845-0505.
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The crime of stalking, which also includes cyberstalking, is outlined by the Florida Statute 784.048. According to state law, you may face stalking charges for the repeated following, harassment, or threatening of another individual whether these actions take place in-person or online (cyberstalking).
Under this chapter of Florida law, harassment is defined as any repeated conduct that is directed at another person that causes them "substantial emotional distress...and serves no legitimate purpose." To meet criteria for stalking charges, conduct must be repeated over a span of time – though; what that span of time is, is not defined.
Making repeated threats to an individual may also meet the criteria for stalking charges if the threats are deemed to be credible. Threats may be either verbal or nonverbal and may be implied. Stalking is also often associated with other sex crimes like rape or with domestic violence in cases where the accused has had a relationship with the person pressing charges.
Harassment in the State of Florida
According to Florida Law, harassment and stalking are not recognized as two separate crimes. The state categorizes harassment as an activity that essentially could lead to a conviction and/or arrest for stalking, while recognizing stalking as the actual crime.
There is only a separate law for harassment according to Florida Statute 365.16, which pertains strictly to actions involving obscene phone calls & telecommunications.
Cyberstalking in the State of Florida
Cyberstalking is a form of direct harassment of another individual electronically. This can be via e-mail, telephone, or social media and can include repeated calls, text messages, photos, or other unsolicited communication. Additionally, the attempt to gain access to online accounts or the smart-devices of another individual without their permission may meet the criteria for stalking charges.
These smart-devices include webcams, home safety systems, recording devices, GPS systems, and more.
If you are facing stalking charges that do not involve threats of harm to another individual and do not involve a minor, whether in-person or via the internet, you will face misdemeanor stalking charges in the first degree.
Upon conviction for a first-degree stalking charge, a judge will likely grant the opposing party a restraining order or an injunction against you. This will appear on your permanent record, even if you do not violate the restraining order. You will likely have guidelines you must follow including how close you can get to that person, their home, their place of work, their vehicle, and places they frequent such as a house of worship. Additionally, you may have to cease communication with their family members or romantic partner. If you share a child with this person it may restrict your visitation.
First-degree misdemeanor charges in the state of Florida carry a maximum jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.
If law enforcement charges you with making credible threats to a person while stalking them, whether in-person or online, you may face charges for aggravated stalking which is a third-degree felony in the state of Florida. Or, if a minor is involved in the case you may face charges for aggravated stalking.
A credible threat is one that the opposing party reasonably believes may cause harm to themselves or their family. To make a credible threat you must be capable of carrying out such threats. It is not necessary that another person proves you have the actual intent to carry out such threats, simply that you are able to do so.
A third-degree felony charge in the state of Florida is punishable by up to five years in prison upon conviction, and $5,000 in fines. Additionally, the opposing party will likely receive a restraining order against you, just as with misdemeanor stalking charges.
Should you violate a restraining order, order of protection, no-contact order, or injunction of any kind in the process of stalking you will also face third-degree felony stalking charges with the same possible penalties.
If you are facing stalking charges in South or Central Florida, it is imperative that you hire a stalking lawyer to begin building your defense immediately. There are defenses available to you and you require aggressive legal representation fighting to protect your rights in a criminal court.
As the penalties for stalking charges are steep and can have far-reaching implications on your life, possibly costing you your freedom and resulting in a lengthy prison term, having a stalking attorney is essential. Criminal defense attorneys at the Weinstein Legal Team have years of experience representing defendants in criminal court and will work tirelessly on your case.
To receive a conviction for stalking charges, the opposing party must furnish proof that you are following, harassing, and/or threatening them. Without this proof, the courts cannot convict you. A stalking attorney can help gather evidence in your favor that proves you are innocent.
Best Cases for Defending Against a Stalking Charge
When it comes to defending against allegations of being a "stalker," some of the best defenses include:
First Amendment Activity
If the defendant was engaged in conduct that the law considers constitutionally-protected activity, then it is not stalking. This includes organized protests, picketing, etc.
If the defendant engaged in communication for a legitimate purpose, then is not considered stalking. This includes child custody, business, or legal matters.
Common defenses for stalking allegations include shedding a reasonable doubt on the prosecution's claims. For instance, a person may claim you are following them each morning, yet you are simply following your routine drive to work. Or, you may have similar places that you frequent as the opposing party, such as the local supermarket, a gym, or a place of worship. It is not a crime to go to these places if you are doing so without malicious intent or without the purpose of following another person.
If you are facing criminal charges, possible jail time, and probation, contact the Weinstein Legal Team today. Our attorneys will help form a defense in your stalking case. Phones and chat are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and you will have access to your attorney at all times.
If you are facing stalking charges, the opposing party likely already has a lawyer working on their behalf. You deserve the same chance at a legitimate defense.
Call 954-845-0505 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation and to speak privately to a defense attorney.