Have you been accused or charged for an alleged cyberstalking offense in Florida? If so, it is important to remember that you have the right to NOT make a statement to law enforcement before you have legal representation.
The legal team at Elsea Law Firm, P.A. is determined to work towards getting the best possible outcome for cases in Hillsborough County and surrounding Tampa Bay areas. You can call (813) 451-8583 for a free consultation regarding your specific case.
Fla. Statute §784.048(1)(d) describes cyberstalking as taking part in “a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.” Cyberstalking often has the same legal consequences as in-person stalking crimes.
It is a first-degree misdemeanor for an alleged offender to willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly cyberstalk a victim. A first-degree cyberstalking misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Emotional distress cannot be clearly defined by many state laws concerning cyberstalking—including Florida. This means that the meaning has been left open for courts to interpret.
During the 1998 Wallace v. Van Pelt case, The Court of Appeals in Missouri interpreted cyberstalking as conduct that , “must produce a considerable or significant amount of emotional distress in a reasonable person; something markedly greater than the level of uneasiness, nervousness, unhappiness or the like which are commonly experienced in day to day living.”
In People v. Ewing, the Fourth District Court of Appeals in California ruled that “At the very least, we can safely assume the phrase means something more than everyday mental distress. In other words, the phrase ‘substantial emotional distress’ entails a serious invasion of the victim’s mental tranquility.”
An experienced attorney can use the above cases and other resources to make legal arguments to the court, as well as factual arguments to a jury during trial.
A cyberstalking offense can be charged as the more serious crime of aggravated stalking in Florida in any of the following situations:
In addition, Fla. Statute §784.048(1)(c) describes a credible threat as a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of both. This includes threats made electronically or implied by pattern of conduct. This places the alleged victim in fear for his or her well-being, or the safety of his or her family or friends. The threat must be made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm. It’s also important to note that a prosecutor does not need proof that the alleged offender had the intent to carry out the threat that was made.
If a defendant is subjected to an injunction or restraining order protection under Aggravated Cyberstalking, they will face a third-degree felony charge. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.
Here you can find information on online privacy, tips for safely using social media sites, and how to report someone for cyberstalking. There is also information on how to save evidence to help authorities find the offender. In addition, there are different variations of emotional support offered to victims. They even offer a Cyberstalking toolkit to help keep track of your information so you can turn it over to a local law enforcement agency if the harassment escalates.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of cyberstalking, it’s imperative that you seek out the proper help to ensure your safety. Find helpful resources in your area or reach out to your local authorities if you believe you are in danger.
If you believe that you have been accused of cyberstalking or are involved in an ongoing cyberstalking offense, your best interest is to find an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney. Do not speak to anyone until you have the proper legal counsel. Joel Elsea at Elsea Law Firm, P.A. is prepared to stand in your corner and fight to get you the best possible outcome. Call (813) 451-8583 for your free consultation today.