If you've recently received notification from the court of a pending petition for a stalking injunction, you likely feel frustrated, confused, and unsure of what to do next. While you might be experiencing a rush of thoughts and emotions, you must pause and contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible.
A defense attorney can provide high-quality legal representation to help fight against the injunction and protect your rights. Don’t try to engage in the legal battle alone — you have much to lose. Let a Florida defense attorney argue against any accusations brought against you.
You’ve likely heard the word “stalking” many times in non-legal contexts. Generally, the dictionary defines stalking as the act of repeatedly and willfully following or harassing another person, causing the person to fear injury or death.
Florida has its legal definition of stalking. The Florida stalking injunction statute defines stalking as wilfully, maliciously, or repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking a person. Additionally, stalking someone and making a “credible threat” can escalate the action to a graver offense.
The Florida stalking statute goes on to provide specific definitions of key terms. It defines "harassing" as engaging in conduct that serves no legitimate purpose, causing the victim emotional distress. A credible threat is similarly restricted as either a verbal or nonverbal threat that leaves the victim in fear for their safety or that of their family.
Stalking can take many forms. Any of the following behaviors could be characterized as stalking:
It's important to note that it's common for people to quickly — and wrongfully — accuse others of stalking. That's why the courts thoroughly examine evidence of an individual's behavior to determine whether there's sufficient proof of a stalker-stalkee relationship.
A stalking injunction in Florida is a court order granted by a judge that prevents a stalker from continuing to engage in threatening behavior. It protects the person being stalked against further threats or fear of harm.
A stalking injunction can restrain a person from several activities, depending on the circumstances. A judge can grant a stalking request to prevent an alleged stalker from doing any of the following:
The injunction's terms are unique to the situation, and the judge can determine what is allowed or not allowed. Sometimes, the judge may grant limited communication between the parties if they deem it necessary. For example, the parties might share a child and need to communicate regarding the care or well-being of their offspring.
Florida law allows victims of stalking to file a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Stalking with the court. If the victim is a minor, the minor’s parent or legal guardian can file the petition for a civil injunction in Florida on their behalf.
To get assistance from the court, victims (referred to as “petitioners”) must file the petition and any supporting documents in the court where the victim resides. Once everything has been submitted, the court will review the petition and its accompanying documentation to decide whether a temporary injunction would be necessary or appropriate.
If the court grants a temporary injunction, it’s valid for 15 days. The court will then set a formal hearing before the expiration of the temporary injunction.
Even if the court decides the situation does not call for a temporary injunction, they’ll still proceed to set a court date for a hearing as soon as possible. The alleged stalker (the respondent) will then receive service of process with a copy of the petition, the notice of hearing, and a copy of the temporary injunction if one is in place.
At the hearing, the judge can hear from both parties as they gather details about the situation and review any available evidence. Once the judge has heard from both sides, they'll determine whether there's an actual need for a stalking injunction. If there's a temporary injunction in place, they can decide to either vacate the injunction or make it permanent.
If you have a stalking injunction against you, it's important not to violate it. Violating the injunction can worsen the situation and lead to serious legal repercussions.
A violation of a stalking injunction in Florida can result in criminal penalties. First violations are commonly charged as a first-degree misdemeanor and may come with fines of up to $1,000 or jail time of up to one year.
Subsequent violations can result in a third-degree felony charge. Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors and carry more severe penalties. These penalties can include fines of up to $5,000 or jail time of up to five years.
It’s never worth violating a stalking injunction, and you should always be careful to avoid doing so. The consequences are not worth the risk.
Contact an attorney immediately if you've been served paperwork providing notice that the other party has filed a petition for a harassment restraining order in Florida. While Florida law doesn't require legal representation during your hearing, having a skilled lawyer on your side gives you the best possible chance at a favorable outcome.
The Denson Firm has over two decades of experience helping clients with sensitive legal matters. We have the knowledge and skills to get you through this challenging situation while protecting your rights and future.
You can count on us if you're facing legal trouble due to a stalking injunction in Florida. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.
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