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What actions are considered stalking in Florida?

When accused of something as serious as stalking, the person facing charges should know what actions the law considers a violation. How does Florida define stalking?

The Florida Legislature and the University of Florida offer the definition and examples of stalking. Understanding the offense may help the accused build a legal defense.

The definition

Florida law defines stalking as malevolently, purposefully and repeatedly following or harassing a person. The state classifies the offense as a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Besides physical stalking, an individual may also engage in cyberstalking. This is communicating with another person using language, words or images via electronic means, such as email, to cause the intended recipient emotional anguish.

One accused of stalking may also face accusations of harassment. State law defines harassment as engaging with a person in a way that causes emotional anguish without a valid reason.

The examples

One instance of stalking is following a person or appearing wherever she or he does, and another example is repeatedly calling a person and hanging up. Someone accused of stalking may also send undesired letters, offerings and electronic messages via email or text. Stalking behavior may also include gathering personal information about an individual through online searches, public records, reaching out to friends and relatives, rifling through a person’s trash and hiring a private investigator.

Many examples of stalking also classify as harassment. An individual may also face accusations of sexual harassment.

Someone hit with stalking charges must know how another may interpret their actions as harassing or emotionally distressing. Getting the facts helps to protect one’s legal rights and create a legal strategy.

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