Is it Stalking?

The act of stalking another person is considered a crime under Florida Statute 784.048. Stalking can also form the basis for a civil injunction and/ or domestic violence injunction. As set out by the Florida legislature, stalking is defined as willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person.

Given today's technologically advanced world, and the popularity of social networking websites such as Myspace and Facebook, the legislature has expanded stalking to the electronic world by including the term cyberstalking in the statute. Cyberstalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct to communicate 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.

Many stalking cases will hinge on whether the facts meet the statutory definition of harassment. In other words, was there a "course of conduct" directed at a specific person that caused substantial emotional distress and served no legitimate purpose. Issues can arise as to whether the behavior is consistent enough to constitute a "course of conduct." Many times there may be a question as to whether there is a legitimate purpose behind the "course of conduct."

There is also a difference under the law as to whether it is actually stalking taking place or just general harassment, which in most cases is not a crime. An expert domestic violence attorney will be able to help you understand these differences and will be able to sort through your fact pattern and identify the above issues. Each element of the stalking statute must be analyzed under your specific facts to determine if the behavior can be classified as stalking.

It is essential to consult an expert family law attorney if you have been served with an injunction for domestic violence in any case, including any allegations of stalking. An expert Tampa family law attorney may also be able to assist you if you have been criminally charged with stalking.