I have discussed the crime of aggravated stalking before, which is a felony. However, the crime of stalking (a misdemeanor) is a less serious offense, but it can still be devastating if you are charged with it.
Florida Statutes section 784.048 defines "stalking" as "willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassing."
Stalking is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail.
Recently, the Sun Sentinel reported that a 70-year-old Coral Springs woman was arrested for allegedly stalking a local priest.
The allegations are that the accused allegedly left threatening phone messages on the priest's personal voicemail. The priest told the police that he would get the calls every morning, and on some days, he would find the accused in a parking space across from his apartment building or sitting on the staircase next to his apartment.
Stalking requires repeated conduct or harassment. One occurrence may not be sufficient for the charge to be upheld.
Stalking can be a crime of domestic violence (typically between ex-spouses or ex-lovers who at one time lived together or have children in common) or non-domestic, such as the situation with the woman and the priest.
Stalking is one of the offenses that cannot be sealed. If you enter a plea of guilty or no contest to a charge of stalking and receive a withhold of adjudication, while you are not convicted, you cannot seal the record.
If the charge is dismissed then you may expunge provided you are otherwise eligible.
Stalking depends on the conduct itself and the number of times the conduct occurs. If you are angry and you call an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend one time, that is not stalking.
If you repeatedly call an ex with the intent to threaten or harass, then that conduct may be considered stalking.
Stalking can often consist of only the testimony of an alleged victim. In that case, it may be worthwhile to fight the charges because the question of fact will come down to who the jury believes.
Sometimes, photos, voicemail messages, and phone records may be available. In this case, it may be beneficial to try to resolve the case with Pretrial Diversion (PTD), should it be made available. Discuss with your criminal defense attorney whether PTD is a good option for you.
Don't rely on the fact that the alleged victim may not appear in court, or is not "on board" with the prosecution. Prosecutors are trained how to proceed on a case without the testimony of an alleged victim.
Besides, it is my experience that stalking allegations come from people who are very upset and want to see the accused punished. It's not like a battery, which may be a one-time thing that the alleged victim can forgive. Stalking requires repeated conduct.
If you or a loved one are facing stalking charges in Miami-Dade or Broward, call me.