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Florida Stalking Laws

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.

Code Section

784.048

Definitions

  • 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.

Punishment/Classification

  • 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: Felony of the 3rd degree

Arrest or Restraining Order Specifically Authorized by Statute?

  • Arrest without warrant if probable cause to believe statute is violated. 

Constitutionally Protected Activities Exempted?

  • Yes, includes picketing and organized protests.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Florida criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Information

For more general information, check out FindLaw’s article on the Details on State Stalking Laws or click on the links provided below. If you have more specific questions or concerns, you may also want to consider contacting a criminal lawyer.

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