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Boynton Beach Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Domestic Violence / What Constitutes Stalking in Florida?

What Constitutes Stalking in Florida?


Under Florida law, stalking is defined as the willful, malicious, and repeated following, harassing, or cyberstalking of one person by another. Harassment refers to a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose. Cyberstalking includes engaging in electronic communication directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose.

Connection Between Stalking and Domestic Violence

Stalking behaviors are not uncommon in domestic violence situations, where one partner may use such tactics as a form of power and control. This can escalate from seemingly benign repeated messages or phone calls to more invasive behaviors like physically following someone or unexpectedly showing up at places despite being unwelcome. The psychological impact on victims can be profound, leading to anxiety, depression, and a debilitating fear for personal safety.

Legal Protections Against Stalking

Florida has robust statutes designed to protect individuals from stalking. Victims can seek a restraining order, known as an injunction for protection against stalking, which can be issued to prohibit the stalker from continuing their harassing behaviors. These injunctions can include provisions that prevent the stalker from making contact in any form with the victim, coming within a certain distance of the victim’s home or workplace, and other specific measures to ensure the victim’s safety.

Obtaining an Injunction for Protection Against Stalking

In Florida, the threshold for obtaining a restraining order or an injunction against stalking is based on demonstrable evidence that stalking has occurred. To meet this legal threshold, the petitioner must provide substantial proof that the stalker has willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or cyberstalked them, causing substantial emotional distress without legitimate purpose.

Key Requirements for the Injunction

  • Substantial Emotional Distress: The victim must demonstrate that the stalker’s actions have caused substantial emotional distress. This does not require proving physical harm but must show that the stalker’s conduct has significantly disrupted the victim’s daily life and psychological well-being.
  • Evidence of Stalking: Providing evidence such as documented communications (texts, emails, social media messages), witness statements, police reports, or any other form of documentation that supports the claim of repeated harassment or stalking behavior is crucial. In cases of cyberstalking, logs of digital communications and evidence of unwanted contact online can be particularly powerful.
  • No Legitimate Purpose: The behavior must be shown to serve no legitimate purpose. The actions of the alleged stalker should be solely intended to harass or intimidate the victim.

Penalties and Enforcement

Violating anti-stalking laws in Florida can result in significant penalties. Stalking is typically classified as a misdemeanor of the first degree, but it can escalate to a felony if there is a credible threat involved or if the offender has any prior stalking convictions. Law enforcement agencies in Florida are trained to recognize and respond to stalking behaviors, ensuring strict enforcement of protective orders and providing necessary protection to victims.

Contact Law Offices of Taryn G. Sinatra, P.A.

Victims of stalking, particularly within the context of domestic violence, must understand that they are not alone and that there are strong legal frameworks in place to protect them. Florida’s laws offer both preventive and responsive measures to support victims and deter perpetrators.

If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking or domestic violence, do not hesitate to seek professional legal help. At the Law Offices of Taryn G. Sinatra, P.A., we are dedicated to supporting our clients through challenging times with compassion and vigorous legal advocacy. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you secure the protections you deserve.




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