It’s a VERY Thin Line between Fan and Stalker
Did you know that over 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States? An estimated fifteen percent of women and six percent of men have been victims of stalking at some point in their lives. It’s important to become more aware of the signs and actions that can be considered stalking by law online or in person, so you can better protect yourself.
In recognition of Stalking Awareness Month, the Law Office of Laura Spencer Coleman offers this important information about stalking.
What Is Stalking?
Stalking is generally defined as a course of action that would put a reasonable person in a state of fear. Stalking can also be committed through both verbal and nonverbal actions. In Florida, one of the keys to behavior being defined as stalking is repetition. The person engaging in the stalking must have followed or harassed the victim more than once. You should talk to an attorney if you have questions about what behavior constitutes repeated incidents.
Cyberstalking falls under the general category of stalking. Florida Statute 784.048(2) characterizes cyberstalking as a course of conduct involving electronic communication directed at a specific person. The conduct must cause substantial emotional distress to that person and serve no legitimate purpose. You can learn more about stalking and cyberstalking from the Stalking Resource Center.
Understanding Florida Law on Stalking, Cyberstalking, and Domestic Violence
Florida considers both stalking and cyberstalking to be forms of domestic violence. The state defines domestic violence as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member. You can file for a restraining order if an individual has contacted you many times within a short period, even if they have not threatened you with violence.
If you are a victim of stalking or cyberstalking, a judge can enter a domestic violence injunction in your favor. A judge can also enter such an injunction in your favor if you have reasonable cause to believe you are in imminent danger of becoming a victim.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Filing for a restraining order is an important step. Your petition should explain the relationship between you and the other person. It should also show the history of the other person’s contact with you and the threats they have made against you. The key to filing a successful petition is clarity.
If you or someone you know is a victim of stalking, cyberstalking or domestic violence and would like advice on what you can do to stop your stalker, contact Attorney Laura Spencer Coleman today. She handles cases throughout the Northwest Florida region. Call (850) 626-8520 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.