Former State Prosecutor
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Florida Statute § 784.048(2) establishes that a person commits the criminal offense of stalking if he or she willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person. If the alleged offender adds a credible threat to his or her behavior toward another person, then the offense becomes aggravated stalking.
The alleged victim in a stalking or aggravated stalking case can file a petition for an injunction for protection against stalking. The alleged victim is referred to as the petitioner while the alleged offender is referred to as the respondent, and temporary injunctions can be issued without any notice to the respondents.
If you are a respondent in an injunction for protection against stalking or have been arrested for allegedly violating a stalking injunction in the Tampa Bay area, it is in your best interest to quickly retain legal counsel. Morris Law Firm, P.A. aggressively defends clients in communities throughout Sarasota County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Pasco County, and Pinellas County.
Melinda Morris is a skilled criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg who will work tirelessly to help you achieve the most favorable resolution to your case that results in the fewest possible restrictions or penalties.
Call (727) 388-4736 today to have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.
As they relate to stalking offenses, harass is defined under Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(a) as "to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose."
Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(b) defines course of conduct as meaning "a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose (the term does not include constitutionally protected activity such as picketing or other organized protests)."
Under Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(c), a credible threat is defined as "a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm."
The statute also establishes that it is not necessary to prove that the alleged offender making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat. The parent or legal guardian of any minor child who is living at home can seek an injunction for protection against stalking on behalf of the minor child.
If the facts contained in a petition convince the judge that stalking or cyberstalking exists, the judge will sign a temporary injunction for protection against stalking that takes effect immediately after the respondent is served with a copy of it and lasts until a hearing can be held or for a period of 15 days, whichever comes first.
The temporary injunction is issued ex parte, meaning that the judge has considered only the information presented by one side. While a temporary injunction can be issued without notice to a respondent, the respondent will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony at the full or final hearing.
Florida Statute § 784.0487(1) establishes that when an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking has been violated and the respondent has not been arrested, the petitioner can contact the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the violation is alleged to have occurred.
The clerk will assist the petitioner in preparing an affidavit that is immediately forwarded to the state attorney of that circuit and to such judge as the chief judge determines to be the recipient of affidavits of violations of an injunction. When an affidavit alleges that a crime has been committed, the office assisting the petitioner will also forward a copy of the affidavit to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Under Florida Statute § 784.0485(9)(a), a court can enforce a violation of an injunction for protection against stalking through a civil or criminal contempt proceeding, or the state attorney may prosecute it as a criminal violation.
A person who willfully violates an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking commits a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, but the crime is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 if the alleged offender has two or more prior convictions for violation of an injunction or foreign protection order.
Florida Statute § 784.0487(4)(a) states that a person willfully violates an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking by:
Stalking Violence Checklist | Florida Courts — Read more about definitions related to stalking offenses on this checklist. The checklist also covers who has standing to file petitions for stalking injunctions as well as the types of relief provided in temporary injunctions and final injunctions. You will also find information about requirements for temporary and final orders as well as modification, termination, and enforcement of repeat violence injunctions.
Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.980(t) | Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Stalking — View instructions for forms seeking protective orders prohibiting stalking. Learn when the form should be used and what you can do if the judge grants your petition or denies or does not issue the injunction. You can also find important information about e-filing and e-service election.
Were you arrested for allegedly violating a stalking injunction or have you been served notice of a stalking injunction being filed against you in the Tampa Bay area? Make sure you contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. as soon as possible.
St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer Melinda Morris represents individuals in Clearwater, Dunedin, Largo, Pinellas Park, and many surrounding areas of Pinellas County. You can have our attorney review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (727) 388-4736 or submit an online contact form to receive a free, confidential consultation.
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