Broward County criminal attorney is asked “is the crime of stalking a felony in Florida?”
As a Broward County criminal defense attorney, I am often asked about Broward County criminal charges stemming from stalking. Rest assured that these charges are not to be taken lightly as they can result in severe criminal sanctions.
Conduct which constitutes a misdemeanor stalking offense is aggravated to a felony when, at the time of the conduct, an injunction for protection against repeat or domestic violence or some other court-imposed prohibition of conduct by the defendant is in existence. To convict a defendant of aggravated stalking based on the violation of a domestic violence injunction, the State must prove that the defendant had knowledge of the injunction. Knowledge by an accused that an injunction is in effect an essential element of the felony offense of aggravated stalking after the entry of a domestic violence injunction. Thus, it was not shown that an aggravated stalking defendant was served with a permanent injunction, as required for conviction, despite the claim that a notation on the permanent injunction of “1-20-98” should have been interpreted as meaning that the defendant was given a copy of the injunction in open court on January 20, 1998; the notation appeared on the permanent injunction that was entered five days before the date indicated by the notation; the notation was written next to a line which stated “forwarded to sheriff for service,” and nothing in the record established that the defendant was served with the permanent injunction.
Broward County criminal lawyers caution that it has been held that actual notice of the injunction for protection against repeat or domestic violence is not an essential element that must be proved by the State beyond a reasonable doubt; the State must prove only that an injunction or some other restriction for protection was in place when the accused repeatedly followed or harassed the victim. In fact, the failure to serve the defendant with the permanent injunction for protection against repeat violence did not invalidate his conviction for aggravated stalking, where the State presented competent substantial evidence that the defendant engaged in stalking activity at a time when a permanent injunction was in place after the defendant had been served with a temporary injunction, notified of the date and time of the hearing for extending the injunction, and, by the language contained in the temporary injunction, made aware that he would be bound by the issuance of a permanent injunction and any other matters determined at the hearing.
Remember, it cannot be emphasized enough that you should always have a Broward County criminal defense attorney appear on your behalf should you be accused of such an offense.