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Stalking and aggravated stalking: Understand the difference

What’s the difference between stalking and aggravated stalking in Florida?

Stalking is generally defined as a pattern of behavior that can include watching, following, harassing, intimidating or threatening someone else. There are several different acts that can be considered stalking:

  • Calling, writing, texting or otherwise repeatedly contacting someone against his or her wishes
  • Following someone everywhere he or she goes
  • Showing up over and over again at someone’s place of business, where he or she shops or where he or she worships
  • Photographing or videotaping someone without his or her permission
  • Cyberstalking someone, which can include things like contacting him or her via email or through social media accounts against his or her wishes

In order to prove an aggravated stalking charge, however, the prosecutor must prove both that stalking occurred plus at least one of the following:

  • That the defendant made some sort of threat that is serious enough to make the victim afraid that he or she will be physically harmed
  • That the defendant violated an existing protective order regarding the victim
  • That the victim is under the age of 16

A threat doesn’t have to be made in person or even in words to be taken seriously by the court. For example, a threatening text message using a knife and a gun emoji could be just as serious an issue as a threat made in person where someone says, “I am going to kill you,” to someone else. Similarly, even a hand gesture can be considered a threat if it is clear enough and seems intended to intimidate or frighten the victim.

While anyone facing a criminal charge needs good legal help, it’s important to realize just how serious a felony charge actually is — you could face a year or longer in prison if you’re convicted. In addition, a felony conviction could haunt your footsteps far into your future, affecting where you can live, whether or not you can go to college, what types of jobs you can have and even whether or not someone will hire you. For information on how our firm might be able to help you fight a felony stalking charge, please visit our webpage on the topic.