What is Stalking
Stalking is defined by Florida Statutes §784.048 which makes it illegal to willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harass, or cyberstalk another person. Many stalking cases are prosecuted under the theory that the defendant was harassing the victim, which basically means the State is claiming the defendant is doing something to the victim, which causes substantial emotional distress to the victim and serves no legitimate purpose. Another frequent theory of prosecution for stalking is cyberstalking. A prosecution under the theory of cyberstalking is essentially the same as harassment, except it is done through electronic means.
Penalties for Stalking
In general stalking is a 1st degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. However there are a number of aggravating factors that can enhance the charge of stalking to aggravated stalking, which is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Such aggravating factors include making credible threats to the victim while stalking the victim, another aggravating factor to stalking is if the defendant stalks the victim while there is an injunction against violence issued against the defendant. Any jail time imposed for stalking must be consecutive to any other sentence the defendant receives.
Defenses to Stalking
There are a number of defenses to stalking. Probably one of the more common defenses to stalking is that the defendant’s conduct serves a legitimate purpose. For example a process server who comes to your house everyday to serve you is probably not guilty of stalking, because his action serves a legitimate purpose.