Is Stalking a Felony Offense in Florida? - Aaron Delgado & Associates

Is Stalking a Felony Offense in Florida?

by Aaron Delgado
01/21/22 (Updated: 04/01/22)

It can be incredibly stressful to face a criminal charge, no matter what the charge might be; however, the first thing you might be wondering is whether the charge is a misdemeanor offense or a felony charge.

For example, if you are charged with stalking, is this a misdemeanor or felony? Stalking is a criminal offense in all 50 states, including the state of Florida; however, the nature of the charge can vary depending on the type of stalking you are charged with.

Some forms of stalking are misdemeanor offenses, while other forms of stalking are felonies. What do you need to know? Remember that you should always reach out to a criminal defense lawyer in Florida who can defend your rights and protect your interests.

The Definition of Stalking

Even though a lot of people toss the word around loosely, stalking is very serious in the legal system. According to information published in Florida stalking law, someone is guilty of stalking if they follow someone around, harass them, or bully them on the internet.

Of course, the law is more detailed. There are several examples of stalking. For example, someone who is stalking someone else may try to cause significant emotional distress by willfully or maliciously following them. This could include sending electronic communications, hacking someone's electronic accounts, following them from store to store, or threatening them in the background. Importantly, you do not necessarily have to know the other person to be hit with a stalking charge; however, if you follow someone around and refuse to leave them alone, the state could have probable cause to charge you with stalking.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charges

So, is stalking a felony? Yes, stalking can be a felony under certain situations. Because there are multiple forms of stalking, you need to clarify what type of stalking charge you are being charged with. Simple stalking is a misdemeanor charge; however, aggravated stalking is a felony charge.

There is a common misconception that misdemeanor charges are not serious; however, every type of criminal charge has to be taken seriously. A misdemeanor charge can still lead to a substantial financial penalty, prison time, and a permanent black mark on your record. Even though felony charges typically carry much more serious penalties, you need to work with a criminal defense attorney no matter what type of stalking you have been charged with.

Simple Stalking

Simple stalking is considered a misdemeanor. With this type of charge, there are no minor children present, there are no threats made, and there is no restraining order in place. This is a first-degree misdemeanor charge in Florida. The maximum penalty for simple stalking is a fine of $1,000 and a year in jail. Even though it is unusual for someone guilty of simple stalking to receive the maximum sentence, it is still possible for someone to face significant financial penalties, jail time, and numerous other consequences. It is not unusual for someone to be ordered to attend counseling if they are guilty of simple stalking.

Aggravated Stalking

The other type of stalking is called aggravated stalking. This is a very serious charge and is considered a third-degree felony in Florida. There are numerous factors that may elevate a simple stalking charge to a charge of aggravated stalking. A few criteria that the state will consider include:

  • If stalking takes place when there are minors present, the charge can be elevated to aggravated stalking.
  • If there is already an injunction or restraining order in place, and the other person decides to continue stalking that person, they could be charged with aggravated stalking.
  • If there are credible, substantiated threats backed up by evidence, then simple stalking can be increased to aggravated stalking.

When someone is talking about credible threats, what does this mean? If the victim of the crime has a reason to believe that the other person has an intention of harming him or her, then this could be considered a credible threat. For example, the other person may be carrying a firearm, they may be threatening to blackmail that person, or they may be threatening someone that person loves. No matter what the true intentions might be, these threats could constitute aggravated stalking.

There are other questions that have to be answered as well before someone can be charged with aggravated stalking. For example, the state may have to prove that there was a restraining order in place or that the incident somehow involved children.

Even though this can be a more difficult case to prove, the penalties are also much more serious. The maximum penalty for aggravated stalking in Florida is up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in court fees. Furthermore, this is a felony conviction, which might make it extremely difficult for you to find a job or secure housing.

What Happens Next?

Regardless of whether you are facing charges of simple stalking or aggravated stalking, it is important for you to work with a criminal defense lawyer. Even if no charges have been filed yet, you should always reach out to a criminal defense lawyer if you believe the police are already trying to build a case against you. That way, you can start formulating an effective defense.

A criminal defense lawyer can accomplish several important tasks on your behalf. These include:

  • A criminal defense attorney can ask for discovery so that you can review the evidence against you.
  • A criminal defense attorney can also review the specific statutes in Florida law to see if the state has adequately proven its case.
  • A criminal defense lawyer can also examine the veracity of the witnesses or victim to make sure they are telling the truth.

Even though it can be stressful to face criminal charges involving stalking, this is not something you have to go through alone. A Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you.

Work With Aaron Delgado and Associates for Criminal Defense in Florida

Facing stalking charges is always serious. Even if you think the facts are on your side, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer who can put your case in the best position possible to be successful.

At Aaron Delgado and Associates, we have a tremendous amount of experience defending people against a wide variety of charges, including charges of stalking. We will listen to your situation without judgment or reservation, always putting your needs ahead of our own. You deserve to have the strongest criminal defense possible, and we are here to provide you with that. Contact us today for a case review.

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