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Fort Myers Criminal Defense Lawyer / Blog / Domestic Violence/Battery / How does stalking classify as a form of domestic violence?

How does stalking classify as a form of domestic violence?

No one wants the dreaded feeling of having someone watch or follow their every move. Occasional coincidences may be normal, but repeated events generating distress signal stalking.

Florida courts classify stalking as a criminal offense under domestic violence committed by a family member or any household member. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also includes stalking as a type of abusive or aggressive behavior by a current or former “intimate partner,” which causes a concern for safety.

What are the warning signs that you’re experiencing stalking?

Patterns of unwanted contact and behavior

Under Florida law, stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor, characterized as willful, malicious and repeated actions of following, harassing and cyberstalking another individual over some time. It can escalate to a third-degree felony as aggravated stalking. This happens if the stalker persistently poses credible threats to the victim even after an injunction for protection, committing an offense with a minor and a court sentence.

One of the most common reasons for stalking is an estranged spouse. Whether you’re in the middle of a divorce or not, you must watch out for the following red flags if you have a solid reason to believe that you’re a stalking victim in imminent danger. The stalker:

  • Leaves unwelcome material gifts

  • Sends numerous text messages, phone calls and social media posts

  • Makes unannounced appearances, like showing up at your place of work or home

  • Observes you from a distance without your knowledge, like taking photos or videos, talking to your friends or hiring a private investigator to gather information about your whereabouts

  • Threatens you or your loved ones, like vandalizing your property or manipulating the situation by attempting to hurt themselves leaving you with no choice but to intervene

Through digitally driven resources, stalking has grown into cyberstalking as well. This kind of online harassment involves ill-natured behavior, such as creating fake accounts to bombard you with illicit messages and images, and even hijacking your online profiles.

Florida doesn’t take stalking lightly. A misdemeanor may result in a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The offender may also suffer from an injunction or a restraining order of up to 10 years. Further, aggravated stalking carries more severe punishments, inclusive of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. 

Looking out for your protection

If you’re fearing for your life, or worse, sustained physical injuries, you must know that filing for charges is the first step to ensure your and your loved ones’ well-being. There are specific details that can make or break your case, so reliable legal representation proves invaluable.

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