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Stalking / Aggravated Stalking

Domestic violence defense attorney Tallahassee, Florida

When a person is accused of constantly following or harassing another person in Florida, they can face criminal prosecution for stalking. Stalking charges often accompany domestic violence cases, where a relationship ends and one party harbors resentment. In some cases, obsession leads one person to attempt to stay in contact with another person even when it becomes clear that the contact is no longer wanted.

In other cases, the alleged victim may have made a false or exaggerated accusation just to seek revenge against the accused person. Their motivation could even be to gain an advantage in an upcoming or anticipated divorce or child custody hearing. Due to the variety of scenarios that could encompass a stalking crime, the line between acceptable contact and stalking is often difficult to define.

It’s important to note that a law enforcement officer can make an arrest for stalking or aggravated stalking without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the offense occurred. This often means the arrest is made after an accusation by the alleged victim, even if no other information supports their accusation. No matter the situation, a criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee can help. This page will provide you with legal definitions, potential penalties and potential defenses that surround stalking cases in Florida.

Tallahassee Stalking Defense Attorney

Have you recently been arrested for stalking in Leon County or the surrounding North Florida area? If so, contact a criminal defense attorney at Pumphrey Law. Our lawyers are experienced in defending men and women who have falsely been accused of stalking or harassment. Talking to an experienced domestic violence defense attorney about these charges is a way to gain valuable advice on what you need to do to protect yourself against this serious accusation. Call our office today at (850) 681-7777 to receive a free consultation.

Florida Stalking Information Center

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Stalking Definitions

The following provides the legal definitions relating to stalking charges in Florida:

  • Harass – To engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes emotional distress to the directed person and which serves no legitimate purpose.
  • Course of Conduct – A pattern of conduct that takes place across a series of acts over time, however short, which evidences the continuance of a purpose or objective.
  • Credible Threat – Can mean a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two that places the targeted person of the threat in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their friends or family, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out such threat to cause harm. This can include threats made through electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct. Important: Florida law specifies that the prosecution does not have to prove the person who made the threat had the intent to conduct such a threat.

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Stalking vs Aggravated Stalking

Under Florida Statute Section 784.048, a person can be charged with a stalking offense if they are accused of willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person. Examples of scenarios that could result in an arrest and stalking charge include:

  • A person repeatedly calls another person at their home or place of employment without a legitimate purpose;
  • A person continuously sends text messages or emails to the targeted person;
  • A person follows the alleged victim home from the bus stop on repeated occasions; or
  • A person sends the alleged victim unwanted gifts or notes.

A stalking charge can be increased to the level of an aggravated stalking offense if the defendant is accused of unlawful contact that involves a “credible threat” that places the victim in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury.

In addition to making a credible threat, a person can be charged with aggravated stalking for accusations of stalking a child, violating an injunction for a previous stalking offense, or was previously convicted of a certain offense resulting in a no-contact order. Examples of scenarios that could result in an aggravated stalking charge include:

  • After a breakup, a man continuously follows his ex-girlfriend to her job, home, and any other location she frequents, ignoring her pleas for him to stop. He also sends her messages that threaten to harm her or her family if she refuses to get back together with him;
  • A person repeatedly follows a targeted person, then slashes their tires, and harms a family pet;
  • A person stalks a minor who is under the age of 16;
  • A person stalks a target person after receiving an injunction or restraining order against them; or
  • A person stalks a targeted person after receiving a conviction for a crime such as sexual battery, lewd or lascivious acts, and having a no-contact order against the alleged victim.

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Penalties for Stalking in Florida

Florida law establishes that a stalking offense is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. If the defendant is convicted, they can face:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines; and
  • Up to one year in jail.

According to the Florida Bar Criminal Jury Instructions, the State must prove the following elements to convict a person of a stalking crime:

  1. The defendant willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly:
    1. Followed;
    2. Harassed; or
    3. Cyberstalked the victim.

An aggravated stalking offense is considered a third-degree felony. If the defendant is convicted, they can face:

  • Up to $5,000 in fines; and
  • Up to five (5) years in prison.

The State must prove the following elements to convict a person of an aggravated stalking crime:

  1. The defendant willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly:
    1. Followed;
    2. Harassed; or
    3. Cyberstalked the victim; and
  2. The defendant made a credible threat to the victim.

If you have any questions regarding which type of stalking offense you are facing or the potential penalties that could come with a conviction, contact the office of Pumphrey Law.

Related Charges

  • Cyber stalking is a form of stalking. Under the same stalking statute, the offense refers to engaging in a pattern of conduct using electronic mail or communication. This can be directly or indirectly to the victim, and can include the use of words, images, or language that is directed at a specific person. A cyberstalking offense can also refer to the access, or the attempted access, into an online account or home electronic system of another person without their consent. Cyberstalking can occur via text messages, e-mail, social media, blogs, internet forums or through website content. Cyberstalking is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.

Important: To qualify as cyberstalking, the content must be directed at a specific person. For instance, it cannot be directed at a group of people, a race, or a team. It must be toward a specific person. The contact or content also must not serve a legitimate purpose and it must be proven it caused that person substantial or emotional distress.

  • Written or Electronic Threats is a criminal charge in Florida that could also arise in an aggravated stalking case. Under Florida Statute Section 836.10, the offense refers to the sending, posting, or transmission of a writing or other record in any manner that could be viewed by another person, and such writing or record makes a threat to kill or do bodily harm to another person. This can include an electronic record as well. Written threats to kill or do bodily harm is considered a second-degree felony.

What is an Injunction for Stalking and What Penalties Come with Violating an Injunction of Protection?

In addition to the penalties that can come with a stalking conviction, there are other consequences that you could face. In the state of Florida, individuals who have been victim to stalking have the right to file for an injunction of protection. Commonly referred to as a restraining order, this formal document would prevent the person accused of stalking from certain acts.

Under Florida Statute Section 784.0485(6)(a), if the notice and hearing for an injunction is found by the court that the petitioner is a victim or aggravated stalking, the court may grant relief through an injunction by the following:

  • Restraining the alleged offender from committing any further act of stalking;
  • Ordering the alleged offender to participate in treatment, intervention, or counseling services, which would be paid for by the respondent;
  • Referring the petitioner to appropriate services including domestic violence centers, certified rape crisis centers, or any other appropriate referral; or
  • Ordering relief as the court deems necessary for the protection of the alleged stalking victim.

Under Florida Statute Section 784.0487, an individual who violates an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking can face a first-degree misdemeanor. If the individual has two or more prior convictions for a violation of an injunction and commits a subsequent violation, they can be charged with a third-degree felony. Common injunction violations include:

  1. Going to or staying within 500 feet of the petitioner’s home, school, place of work, or a place specified that is regularly frequented by the petitioner or any named family members associated with the victim;
  2. Committing an act of stalking against the petitioner;
  3. Committing any other violation of the injunction through an intentional threat, word, or act to commit violence against the petitioner;
  4. Calling, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner, whether it be directly or indirectly, unless the injunction allows for indirect communication through a third-party;
  5. Knowingly and intentionally coming within 100 feet of the petitioner’s motor vehicle, whether occupied or not;
  6. Defacing or destroying the person property of the petitioner, including their motor vehicle; or
  7. Refusing to surrender firearms or ammunition if ordered to do so by the court.

If you’ve been accused of violating an injunction for protection, finding a defense attorney is extremely important. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm to discuss the details of your initial offense and terms of injunction.

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Defenses to a Stalking Charge in Florida

While any stalking offense should be taken seriously, it is important to address the potential defenses that could be used to fight back against a conviction. When you hire an attorney with Pumphrey Law Firm, we can help determine if any of the following offenses can be applied to your case:

  • False allegations – Unfortunately, there can be cases where a person accuses someone else of stalking out of anger or spite. This may be the case for an angry ex-partner who simply wishes to incriminate the other person. Without proper evidence to prove the defendant acted maliciously or repeatedly followed the victim, it can be difficult to secure a conviction.
  • Mistaken identity – The alleged victim could be mistaking the person stalking them for someone else. A case of mistaken identity can help a defendant accused of stalking prevent prosecution.
  • Lack of reasonable fear – In cases of aggravated stalking, the law implies that the accused person has acted in a way to instill reasonable fear into the victim. If the defendant’s actions would not induce fear in a reasonable person, this may be argued to combat the charge.
  • First Amendment activity involvement – A defendant who was merely engaged in a constitutionally protected activity cannot be prosecuted for stalking. This can include organized protests or picketing.
  • Communication for legitimate purpose – There are some stalking cases where both parties share a child in common. If the communication between the alleged offender and victim was for a legitimate purpose—for example, for legal or custody issues, the communication may not be considered as a violation of law.

If you’ve recently been accused of stalking in Florida, get ahead of your case by consulting with an experienced defense attorney in Leon County, Florida.

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Find a Stalking Defense Lawyer in Tallahassee, FL

When a person is accused of a stalking crime in Florida, they should contact an attorney immediately. An allegation can lead to a criminal charge for the misdemeanor of simple stalking or the more serious felony offense for making a credible threat or stalking after an injunction is entered. The courts often attach “no bond” conditions or could set remarkably high bonds. The first step is stopping all contact, even if the complaining witness attempts to resume communication.

The Tallahassee, FL criminal defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law can help you get your life back on track after allegations of stalking. Our attorneys will provide you with legal insight and help you find the best defense to fight the charges.

Pumphrey Law represents clients throughout Tallahassee and the surrounding Big Bend areas, including Bristol in Liberty County, Quincy in Gadsden County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County and Monticello in Jefferson County. Our attorneys are ready to discuss what you need to do to protect yourself after these serious charges have been made against you. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation.


Page Updated March 6, 2024

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