What is stalking? Stalking is characterized as a pattern of malicious and willful behavior that occurs over a period of time -- and more than once. While we often associate stalking with someone lurking in the bushes outside someone’s house, stalking can also refer to various other forms of harassment, such as: repeatedly calling someone’s home or place of business, vandalizing personal property, or even leaving someone unwanted written notes or gifts.
Though most have only recently made it a crime, stalking is now a criminal offense in every state. Florida's stalking law defines the crime as repeated harassment that creates a credible threat of harm. The crime is often charged against estranged partners and spouses.
In Florida, victims of stalking also have a civil remedy available to them in the form of restraining orders (also called "orders of protection"). A restraining order is an official document issued by the court that essentially “orders” (requires) the stalker to refrain from contacting or otherwise pursuing the victim.
Below are the basic elements of Florida's stalking law.
Florida Code Section 784.048
- Stalking:Willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassing.
- Aggravated Stalking: Willful, malicious and repeated following or harassing another with credible threats with the intent to place person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or willfully, maliciously, repeatedly follows or harasses minor under 16; or after injunction for protection or any court-imposed prohibition of conduct, knowingly, willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person.
- Stalking: Misdemeanor of the 1st degree
- Aggravated Stalking: Felony of the 3rd degree
- Sentencing/Fines: Apply 775.082, 083,084
Penalty for Repeat Offense
Violating Injunction/Protective Order:
- 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.
Arrest or Restraining Order Specifically Authorized by Statute?
- Arrest without warrant if probable cause to believe statute is violated.
- First Amendment Activities including picketing and organized protests
- Legitimate Purpose
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Related Resources for Florida Stalking Laws:
Facing Stalking Charges in Florida? An Attorney Can Help
Being accused of stalking another person is a serious crime. While you may believe you weren't engaging in a pattern of harassing conduct, the victim and law may see otherwise. As such, it is always advised to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to help fight the charges.