Injunction for Protection against Stalking or Cyberstalking
Stalking can take numerous forms, including physically following someone as well as using the Internet, social media, or other electronic communications to harass, sexually harass, verbally abuse, repeatedly ask for a personal meeting, or threaten others. It can also include making electronic threats or following someone who has already taken out an injunction for domestic violence or repeat violence against you. If you are faced with an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking, the consequences can be grave. You should take the situation seriously. Your freedom may be significantly restricted, and you could face future penalties as a result of any violation of the injunction. At Hanlon Law, Tampa injunction lawyer Will Hanlon is committed to protecting the rights of the accused.Injunctions for Protection Against Stalking or Cyberstalking
Under Florida Statute section 784.048, stalking and cyberharassment are prohibited. Stalking is a misdemeanor in the first degree. This means that it is punishable by 12 months in the county jail and a fine of $1,000 for each incident of stalking. Aggravated stalking is a felony of the third degree and is punishable by five years in the state prison.
In Florida, you can be convicted of stalking if a prosecutor can show beyond a reasonable doubt that you willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or cyberstalked someone else. To cyberstalk is to be involved in a course of conduct that directs language through email or other electronic communications to a particular person, causing that person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and the conduct is performed for no legitimate reason.
In some cases, an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, dating violence, or domestic violence does not stop the alleged perpetrator from stalking or cyberstalking another person. If you are accused of violating an injunction by stalking another person willfully, knowingly, maliciously, and repeatedly, you can be charged with aggravated stalking. For example, if you repeatedly send emails and Facebook messages to your ex-wife, who has received an injunction from the court prohibiting you from making any contact with her, this is likely to be seen as stalking or harassment.
If someone is shown to meet these two elements of willful and malicious conduct and cyberstalking and is also shown to have made a credible threat to the alleged victim, they can be convicted of aggravated stalking, which is a felony of the third degree. For example, if your emails stated that you planned to beat up your ex and his girlfriend, this would likely be charged as aggravated stalking.
Courts take seriously concerns of stalking or cyberstalking of a child under 16 years of age. This also can be charged as felony third-degree aggravated stalking. People who have been sentenced for sexual battery and ordered not to contact the victim can be charged with a third-degree felony of aggravated stalking, as can people sentenced for lewd or lascivious offenses committed against someone who is under 16, or people sentenced under the Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act.
Stalking and cyberstalking are taken seriously in Florida. A police officer does not need a warrant to arrest someone if they have probable cause to believe that the person has committed stalking or cyberstalking. During sentencing for stalking or cyberstalking, the court can consider issuing an order to restrict your contact with the victim for up to 10 years. The court is supposed to consider many factors, including the probability of your doing it again, the victim's safety, and the safety of the victim's family members. Such an order may be issued even if you have been sentenced to state prison or jail, or even if you are on probation.
Under section 784.0485, someone who considers himself or herself a victim of stalking or who is a parent or legal guardian of a minor who is living with that minor can obtain an injunction for protection against stalking, including cyberstalking. A sworn petition that alleges the existence of stalking and includes specific facts and circumstances for which the petitioner seeks relief must be filed.
Although neither party needs to be represented by an attorney for the petition to be brought or opposed, legal representation may make a difference to the outcome of the petition. Since an injunction prohibits you from taking certain actions in the future, it can be important to oppose the court taking such an action. Once the injunction is in place, a violation of it is serious and can result in more criminal penalties in the future.Retain an Experienced Injunction Attorney in the Tampa Region
Sometimes allegations of stalking or cyberstalking are made for an improper purpose. You should take seriously an injunction for protection against stalking and retain a skillful criminal attorney to handle the matter. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has represented criminal defendants since 1994 in the Tampa area and is fully committed to protecting the rights of the accused. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up an appointment with a domestic violence lawyer.