What is Stalking and How Do I Protect Myself From a Stalker?
Engaging in threatening, violent or abusive behavior repeatedly after the victim has asked the perpetrator to cease contact is stalking. In Florida, a defendant determined to be stalking a victim can be charged with a third degree felony and face prison time. It is a serious charge and serious criminal behavior, that in the 21st century is often conducted via cyber channels, but is stalking nonetheless. If you are a domestic violence victim or were subject to harassment or stalking by a coworker, former friend, or a stranger, you need someone on your side. West Palm Beach family attorney William Wallshein has practiced in Florida for over three decades. He understands the intersection of domestic issues and criminal law and fights for victims of domestic violence. Read on to learn more about what criminal behavior qualifies as stalking or harassment.
Florida statutes define stalking as actions wherein the defendant “willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows, harasses or cyberstalks another person and makes a credible threat to that person. Fla Stat. § 784.048 (2020). Cyberstalking means that the individual repeatedly contacts a person through the internet, online or by accessing another person’s online records, files or emails without their possession.
To be charged with aggravated stalking the defendant must be proven to have used a weapon or threatened to use a weapon against the victim, posing a credible threat. Aggravated stalking is a third degree felony punishable up to five years in prison. If stalking continues in a domestic context, even after a protective order has been issued by the court, the defendant is charged with a third degree felony for aggravated stalking. If the defendant is subsequently found guilty for stalking, the court can order a restraining or protective order extended for up to 10 years to protect the victim.
Taking Action to Protect Yourself
If you are concerned for your safety, you can contact the authorities for immediate assistance. You can file an emergency protective order or peace order against your abuser or the person(s) harassing you, even if it’s after hours or on the weekend. If you are being physically threatened, call the police or 911 immediately for help. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, tell a trusted friend, relative or coworker about what is going on. Keep a go bag or purse in your car or somewhere safe with a change of clothes, important documents, a cell phone charger and other essentials in case you need to leave in a hurry. Delete your phone and internet browser history if you are concerned your abuser will use the information to harm you. Develop a safety plan, go to the courthouse or police station to file a police report, and contact Wallshein Law to file a protective order against your abuser, and work on custody or divorce litigation as well if applicable. You are not alone; help is available no matter how dire your situation.
Schedule a Consultation ASAP
If you or a loved one is facing daily harassment, abuse or stalking from a relative or a stranger, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact Attorney William Wallshein immediately. He can help you identify resources available to you, file a peace or protective order, including temporary relief and use of the family vehicle, funds or home. If you are being cyberstalked, bullied or threatened at school, work, or in public, there are actions the court and the criminal justice system can take against the suspect and Attorney Wallshein can also file a peace order on your behalf. Violent crimes are taken very seriously in the State of Florida. Stalkers and habitual abusers can and have escalated their behavior. Don’t wait until it’s too late to seek relief from abuse and harassment. Call Attorney Wallshein today.