If there is one thing that you don’t want to be accused of, it’s stalking another person. Even though you might have good intentions, if another person doesn’t want you to be around them, they may accuse you of stalking them if they see you too often.

The good news is that the definition of stalking is clearly defined, so you should be able to defend yourself. Here is some more information on what you should know about the stalking laws in Florida.

Stalking: The definition

Stalking is defined in Florida code section 784.048 as being any malicious, willful and repeated harassing or following of a person. Aggravated stalking is the same but with the addition of credible threats that are intended to place the other person in jeopardy of death or injury. Aggravated stalking charges may be filed against someone who repeatedly (and willfully or maliciously) follows or harasses a minor under the age of 16 as well. If the court orders a person to stop following or harassing another and they continue to do so, they may also face aggravated charges.

The penalties for stalking another person are significant. While a first offense leads to a misdemeanor of the 1st degree, aggravated stalking is a felony.

What happens to repeat offenders?

Initial offenses may lead to restraining orders, financial penalties and even imprisonment, depending on the situation. Repeat offenders can expect to face up to 21 months in prison on top of up to five years of probation and/or prison if they violate an injunction or protective order. The accused may also face up to $5,000 in fines.

Are there any good defenses against allegations of stalking?

Yes, there are some good defenses that you may want to use to protect yourself if you’re accused of stalking another person. For example, if you had a legitimate reason to continue seeing them, such as business meetings, then that might be a good defense. Similarly, if you were picketing, involved in an organized protest or otherwise using your First Amendment rights, then you may have a defense. That’s something your attorney will work with you on as they build a defense for your case.