Stalking and Cyberstalking
If you are charged with stalking, cyberstalking, or aggravated stalking, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Brooksville, Hernando County, FL, at Ashley M. Aulls, P.A.. Florida law provides for several different versions of stalking or cyberstalking which can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the allegations.
Florida Statute § 784.048(2), provides for the criminal offense of stalking or cyberstalking. In order to prove the crime of stalking or cyberstalking at trial, the prosecutor with the State Attorney's office must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:
- the defendant acted willfully and maliciously;
- to repeatedly follow, harass or cyberstalk the alleged victim
Attorney for Stalking in Hernando County
Ashley Aulls represents clients charged with these types of criminal offenses throughout the Fifth Judicial Circuit including Hernando County, Sumter County and Citrus Bounty, FL. Call (352) 593-4115 to discuss the facts of your case.
Overview on Stalking in Florida
The standard jury instructions for the offense of stalking or cyberstalking include certain definitions used in the statutory scheme. The standard jury instructions were first approved in 1995, and were subsequently amended in 2007 and 2013. In Florida's stalking statute the term “harass” is defined in Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(a) to mean "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."
The term “course of conduct” is defined in Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(b) to mean "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 "course of conduct" does not include constitutionally protected activity such as picketing or other organized protests. See Patterson v. State, 512 So. 2d 1109 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987).
Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(d) defines the term “cyberstalk” to mean "to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose."
Aggravated Stalking under § 784.048(3)
Aggravated stalking under § 784.048(3) requires proof that the defendant made a credible threat to the alleged victim. Florida Statute § 784.048(1)(c) defines the term “credible threat” to mean "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."
In order to prove aggravated stalking under this subsection is is not necessary for the State to prove that the person making the threat had the actual intent to carry out the threat. In fact, the present incarceration of the person making the threat is not a bar to prosecution. Instead, the statute focuses on the harm causes by the threat to the alleged victim.
Aggravated Stalking (after an injunction is entered) § 784.048(4)
Aggravated Stalking under § 784.048(4) involves an allegation of stalking after an injunction or court order is entered prohibiting the contact. The additional elements require proof of the following additional elements:
- At the time of the the following, harassing, or cyberstalking;
- a. an injunction for protection against [repeat] [sexual] [dating] [domestic] violence had been entered against (defendant) for the benefit of (victim); or
- a court had imposed a prohibition of conduct on (defendant) toward (victim) or (victim’s property).
Other types of stalking allegations include Aggravated Stalking under § 784.048(5) when the alleged victim is under 16 years of age. Additionally, Aggravated Stalking under 784.048(7) provides for enhanced penalties when it is alleged that the defendant previously sentenced for a sex offense and was prohibited from contacting victim committed the act of stalking or cyberstalking.
If you are charged with stalking or cyberstalking in Hernando County or Brooksville, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to aggressively fight the charges. Call attorney Ashley Aulls at (352) 593-4115 to discuss the particular facts of your case and your best defense.