Aggravated Stalking in Florida

If accused of Aggravated Stalking, you need to know the:

Definition of Aggravated Stalking

Under Florida Statute Florida Statute 784.048(3), the crime of Aggravated Stalking is committed when a person:

  1. Willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly;
  2. Follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person; and
  3. Either:
    1. Makes a credible threat towards the other person;
    2. The other person is under the age of sixteen (16); or
    3. The other person has obtained a No Contact order after the defendant was convicted of a sex crime.

Credible Threat

A credible threat is defined as a verbal or nonverbal threat that places another person in reasonable fear for their safety, their family's safety, or their close associates safety. [1]

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is defined as electronically sending words, images, or language to a person that cause substantial emotional distress and serve no legitimate purpose. [2]

Harassment

Harassment is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, which causes substantial emotional distress in that person and serves no legitimate purpose. [3]

Penalties for Aggravated Stalking

All three forms of Aggravated Stalking crimes are Third Degree felonies in Florida. However, the minimum penalties vary based upon what form of Aggravated Stalking a person is convicted of.

Aggravated Stalking with Credible Threat; Aggravated Stalking of Person Under 16

The crime of Aggravated Stalking with Credible Threat and Aggravated Stalking of Person Under 16 is assigned a Level 6 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Aggravated Stalking with Credible Threat or Aggravated Stalking of Person Under 16, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Aggravated Stalking after an Injunction or No Contact Order

The crime of Aggravated Stalking after an Injunction or No Contact Order is assigned a Level 7 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Aggravated Stalking after Injunction or No Contact Order, a judge must impose a minimum sentence of twenty-one (21) months imprison and can impose any additional penalties of:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Defenses to Aggravated Stalking

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, common defenses to the crime of Aggravated Stalking are:

First Amendment Activity

It is a defense to the crime of Aggravated Stalking if the conduct the person is alleged to have engaged in is considered constitutionally protected activity, such as picketing or organized protesting. [4]

Legitimate Purpose

If communication with another person is solely made in furtherance of a legitimate pursuit, such as legal, business, or child custody matters, then the communication is presumptively considered legitimate. [5]

As a result, communications made with civility in support of legal, business, or child custody matters will not support a stalking charge.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Aggravated Stalking in Central Florida or the greater Orlando area, please contact Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. Florida Statute 784.048(1)(c)
  2. Florida Statute 784.048(1)(d)
  3. Florida Statute 784.048(1)(a)
  4. Florida Statute 784.048(1)(b)
  5. Alter v. Paquette, 98 So. 3d 218 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012)