Many people who are accused of a Florida stalking crime are anxious to clear their name and avoid the consequences of a conviction. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., our St. Petersburg stalking defense lawyers want to hear your side of the events. We understand that in some stalking and domestic violence cases, the allegations may be inaccurate or exaggerated. Our hardworking lawyers can examine the evidence in your case and protect your right to fair proceedings in a Florida stalking case.Types of Stalking Crimes in Florida
In Florida, stalking is committed when a person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person. Harassment is further defined under Florida law as engaging in a pattern of conduct directed at a specific person, which serves no legitimate purpose and which causes substantial emotional distress to that person. The course of conduct must consist of a series of acts over a period of time.
Stalking crimes include cyberstalking. Under Florida law, cyberstalking means engaging in a course of conduct to communicate words or images through the use of email or other electronic means that is directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose. Accordingly, a stalking charge may arise from harassment that occurs through social media accounts, emails, text messages, and other electronic means.
Criminal offenses for stalking in Florida range from misdemeanor to felony crimes. A simple stalking offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, one year of probation, a fine of up to $1,000, and a restraining order against the defendant. When certain factors are present, however, the defendant may be charged with aggravated stalking. Aggravated stalking is a third-degree felony in Florida, carrying more serious penalties for a conviction. Thus, it is especially important to consult a stalking defense attorney in the St. Petersburg area if you have been charged with this type of crime.Aggravated Stalking of Child Under 16
A stalking offense may be elevated to aggravated stalking if the alleged victim is under the age of 16. For a conviction, the prosecution must prove that the elements of stalking are present and that the victim was younger than 16 years old.Aggravated Stalking with a Credible Threat
Stalking that involves threats against the alleged victim, the victim’s family members, or the victim’s friends may result in an aggravated stalking charge. Aggravated stalking has the same elements as a simple stalking offense, but it also requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant made a credible threat to the alleged stalking victim. A credible threat may include verbal and nonverbal threats, threats communicated electronically, and threats implied by a pattern of conduct. To be a credible threat, it must place the person in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their family members, or other individuals with whom they are closely associated. It does not matter whether or not the defendant intended to carry out the threat, as long as it appeared capable of being carried out.Aggravated Stalking After Injunction for Protection
In a situation in which the defendant was subject to a court order or injunction for protection, they should make sure to consult a St. Petersburg stalking defense attorney to help them fight the ensuing aggravated stalking charge. The prosecution must establish that the stalking occurred after an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, dating violence, or domestic violence, or after any other court-imposed order prohibiting conduct toward the alleged victim or the victim’s property.Aggravated Stalking After No-Contact Order
Aggravated stalking may also apply when the defendant has been convicted of certain sex crimes, and a no-contact order was in place. In addition to the elements of stalking, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was sentenced for sexual battery, or a lewd or lascivious act committed upon or in the presence of a person under 16 years old, or certain computer transmissions of sexual acts to a person under 16 years old. The prosecution must further establish that the defendant was prohibited from contacting the alleged stalking victim under a no-contact order.Contact a Defense Lawyer to Fight Criminal Stalking Charges
At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., our defense attorneys work diligently to investigate stalking accusations and identify an appropriate strategy to defend against the charges. Based in the St. Petersburg area, our stalking defense lawyers represent people in felony and misdemeanor cases related to stalking, domestic violence, and other violent crimes in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and other areas of Pinellas County. Schedule an appointment to discuss your situation with a criminal defense attorney by calling (727) 286-6141 or contacting us online.