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Aggravated Stalking in Florida

Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida

AGGRAVATED STALKING IN FLORIDA – An Insight by an Experienced Orlando Attorney

What are the Elements of Aggravated Stalking in Florida?

Under Sec. 784.048, Florida Statutes, the elements of Aggravated Stalking in Florida are:

  • A person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or cyberstalked another person; AND
  • One of the following conditions is met:
    • The other person was less than 16 years old;
    • The offender made a credible threat to the other person;
    • The offender at the time was subject to an injunction (restraining order) or other court-imposed order prohibiting the offender from participating in certain conduct; or
    • The offender was prohibited from contacting the other person because of a previous conviction for sexual battery, lewd or lascivious activity, or a violation of the Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act.

Moreover, the law specifically defines harassment and cyberstalking, as well as what it means to make a credible threat.

Harassment

Harassment means engaging in a course of conduct—i.e. a series of acts over a period of time with the same purpose—that is directed at a specific person, causes substantial emotional distress, and serves no legitimate purpose. But engaging in constitutionally protected activity, such as picketing or protesting, does not constitute harassment.

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking means causing substantial emotional distress and serving no legitimate purpose by either (1) engaging in a course of conduct to electronically communicate words, images, or language directed at or pertaining to another specific person, or (2) accessing or attempting to access another person’s online accounts or Internet-connected home electronic systems without permission.

Credible Threat

A credible threat is any threat, including one implied by a pattern of conduct, that places the target in reasonable fear for his or her safety or that of someone close to the target, and which the offender appears to have the ability to carry out. It is irrelevant whether the offender intended to actually carry out the threat.

What are the Penalties for Aggravated Stalking in Florida?

Aggravated Stalking is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Penalty Description
Prison or Probation Up to 5 years
Fine Up to $5,000

If you are charged with Aggravated Stalking by a credible threat or against someone less than 16 years old, then the charge carries a severity level of 6 (or 36 points) under the Criminal Punishment Code. Assuming there are no aggravating circumstances (such as prior criminal convictions), there is no minimum mandatory sentence. This means that even though the judge can sentence you up to the maximum prison time, the judge is not required to order any amount of prison time.

But if you are charged with Aggravated Stalking for violating a court-imposed prohibition, then the charge carries a severity level of 7 (or 56 points). If there are no aggravating circumstances, this translates to a minimum permissible sentence of 21 months in prison. The judge cannot impose a lesser sentence unless special circumstances exist for what is called a downward departure from the minimum sentence.

How Can I Fight a Charge of Aggravated Stalking in Florida?

When charged with Aggravated Stalking in Florida, it’s crucial to understand the defenses available.

Less than Two Acts of Stalking

The courts have held that stalking requires a course of conduct involving a series of acts. In other words, there must be at least two instances of stalking for an offense to be committed.

Legitimate purpose

Stalking behavior is illegal only if it does not serve any legitimate purpose. The courts have defined legitimate purpose broadly, finding that it includes such conduct as making numerous complaints to government officials about the victim, reporting suspect misconduct to the victim’s employer, and repeatedly contacting the victim to repay a loan the victim owes.  Even if such conduct was intended to harass the victim, it cannot support a stalking charge if it also served a legitimate purpose.

Motion to Suppress

One of the most common defenses is the motion to suppress, which seeks to exclude evidence that was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.

Alibi Defense

Another potential defense is the alibi defense, where you provide evidence that you were elsewhere when the alleged crime occurred, making it impossible for you to have committed the crime.

At Leppard Law, we can use these and other strategies to challenge the State’s case or prove your innocence. Our experienced attorneys can take the steps necessary to challenge any restraining orders or charges you may currently face.

FAQs

1. What is the punishment for Aggravated Stalking in Florida?

Aggravated Stalking is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine.

2. What constitutes Aggravated Stalking?

Aggravated Stalking involves a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or cyberstalked another person, and one of the specific conditions is met.

3. Can I fight a charge of Aggravated Stalking in Florida?

Yes, there are several defenses available to fight a charge of Aggravated Stalking in Florida, including demonstrating that the alleged crime served a legitimate purpose or providing an alibi.

4. How can Leppard Law help me with a charge of Aggravated Stalking?

Leppard Law can help by challenging the State’s case, proving your innocence, or moving to throw out evidence that was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.

FIGHT FOR YOUR FUTURE WITH A STALKING DEFENSE LAWYER IN CENTRAL FLORIDA

Our attorneys can take the steps necessary to challenge any restraining orders to stalking charges you may currently face. Leppard Law: Florida DUI Lawyers & Criminal Defense Attorneys PLLC has more than 50 years of legal expertise and the resources to look into your accusations so that we can develop an effective strategy for your defense. Contact us to get your case started by calling or texting us at 407-476-4111 today! 

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