Injunctions for Protection Against Stalking or Cyberstalking
You can face criminal charges of stalking for physically following someone or for using the Internet and social media to make repeated threats or harass. In some cases, a person who believes herself or himself to be a victim of stalking, such as in a domestic violence situation, may ask for an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking. Often, people do not take injunctions as seriously as they do criminal charges, or they may not take either procedure seriously. This is a mistake. If an injunction is granted, your freedom and rights may be severely limited, and you may be charged in criminal court for failing to adhere to the strict requirements of the injunction. Bradenton injunction lawyer Will Hanlon fights for the rights of people charged with stalking.Fighting an Injunction for Protection Against Stalking or Cyberstalking
Florida Statute section 784.048 prohibits stalking and cyber-harassment. While stalking is usually a first-degree misdemeanor the first time that you are charged, it can also be charged as a third-degree felony when there are aggravating factors. Even first-degree misdemeanor charges can result in jail time and fines of $1,000 for each episode of stalking.
Under section 784.048, cyberstalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct to communicate language, images, or words via email or electronic communications to a person without having a legitimate purpose, thereby triggering significant emotional distress. Anybody who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly cyberstalks another person or follows or harasses them has committed first-degree misdemeanor stalking.
A number of circumstances can get this charge elevated to aggravated stalking. When this behavior is accompanied by a believable threat, it is aggravated stalking, which is a third-degree felony. If this behavior occurs after being enjoined by the court in connection with sexual violence, dating violence, repeat violence, or domestic violence, it is also third-degree felony aggravated stalking. If this behavior is in relation to a victim who is under 16, you can also be charged with third-degree felony aggravated stalking. If you were prohibited from contacting the victim under section 921.244 and were previously sentenced for certain sex crimes, and you are proven to have repeatedly, willfully, or maliciously harassed, followed, or cyberstalked a person, you can be charged with third-degree felony aggravated stalking. When a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you have committed stalking or cyberstalking, they can arrest you without a warrant.
When you are being sentenced for cyberstalking or stalking, the court is entitled to consider all relevant factors to determine whether an injunction should be issued to limit your contact with the victim. An injunction is an order prohibiting you from making contact and taking other steps in connection with the victim. An injunction for protection against cyberstalking or stalking could last a maximum of 10 years. Factors that bear on whether an injunction should be issued include the probability of your repeating your actions, the victim's safety, and whether there is a threat to the victim's family members. An injunction can be issued whether you are on probation or already sentenced to prison or jail.
However, the victim is not limited in their remedies to what the criminal court orders as part of sentencing. Instead, under section 784.0485, a person who believes himself or herself to be a stalking victim or who is a parent of a minor who has alleged that the minor is being stalked or cyberstalked can get an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking. The victim will need to file a sworn petition alleging that there was stalking and providing particular facts and circumstances that constituted it.
It is critical to retain an attorney even if you are not subject to criminal charges but only the civil process of an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking. Once an injunction is in place, any violations can lead to harsher criminal penalties. The victim can call the police if you violate the injunction and have you arrested for violating it. This can result in further criminal penalties.Consult an Aggressive Stalking Defense Lawyer in the Bradenton Area
If you have received a petition for an injunction for protection against stalking or cyberstalking in Bradenton, or another injunction based on repeat violence, domestic violence, or dating violence, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney about your situation. You will have an opportunity to present your side of the story to the court in a full hearing, and it is important to have skillful representation. Will Hanlon has defended people facing injunctions since 1994. Contact Hanlon Law at 941.253.0254 or via our online form.