Phone harassment, vandalism, and even unwanted notes or gifts may constitute stalking under Florida law. Moreover, stalking is punishable both civilly and criminally in Broward County. Civil remedies are available in the form of a restraining order or a protective order. Protective orders are court orders requiring the defendant to stay away from the person or persons claiming harassment or stalking.
Some individuals raise stalking charges against former spouses or romantic partners. If the State has charged you with violating the Florida Stalking Statute, you may want experienced legal counsel. A Broward County stalking defense lawyer familiar with local court regulations may help you better understand your case. A consultation with a skilled stalking lawyer may help you begin to formulate a successful legal defense.
Conditions for an Arrest in Broward County
To arrest someone for stalking, a police officer will usually have a warrant. In some cases, however, the officer may be able to arrest the suspect without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the suspect violated the state stalking statute. As a Broward County stalking defense lawyer knows, probable cause is difficult to define. In most cases, it amounts to “reasonable grounds” for making an arrest considering all the circumstances existing at the time.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Offenses
There are several charges associated with stalking in Broward County. Stalking is usually considered a First-Degree Misdemeanor, and an aggravated stalking offense is regarded as a Third-Degree Felony. For a Prosecutor to charge someone with stalking, the person typically must have willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed or harassed someone.
The standard to pursue an aggravated stalking charge in Broward County is outlined in Florida Statute 784.048 (7). Generally, for the charge of aggravated stalking, there must be an issuance of a credible threat during the incident. The threats must be made with direct intention to place a person in fear for their life—or of great bodily harm or injury.
Potential Defenses for Stalking
Individuals facing stalking charges may be able to raise one or more legal defenses to their charge. Specifically, the individual may be able to successfully claim that they were picketing or that they were engaging in an organized protest, without harboring any malicious intent.
In cases of picketing, a person may stand outside a workplace to protest or attempt to influence others to not enter the establishment. An organized protest typically is a planned event and participators may try to sway public opinion about a certain policy or social issue. If a person can raise a successful legal defense, they may be able to reach a more positive outcome for their case.
Consult a Broward County Stalking Defense Attorney
Criminal stalking charges and convictions can result in serious penalties. A person facing these charges may incur a criminal record that is accessible to the public. Subsequently, years of incarceration or probation, along with a significant monetary fine could be imposed. The severity of such penalties may increase if violations to court-ordered injunctions or temporary or final protective orders occur.
If the State charged you with stalking, speaking with a stalking defense lawyer may be beneficial to both you and your case. A Broward County stalking defense lawyer may provide insight to your case concerning the strengths, weaknesses, and potential opportunities of structuring a defense for your unique case.