Man Faces Multiple Florida Charges After Stalking South Beach Woman
Police have charged a man with multiple crimes after he stalked a woman on a scooter, followed her to her South Beach home, and then tried to rape her in the living room. According to an August 8, 2017 report in the Miami Herald, that the man was caught on video surveillance cameras at a number of businesses as he followed the woman and paced in front of a coffee shop she had entered. The victim alleged that she came home after purchasing coffee, but didn’t lock her apartment door before heading to bed. At some point, the accused entered the residence and attempted a sexual attack; however, he fled when the woman’s roommate entered the living room. Stalking is a serious type of sex crime in Florida, so the offender will face considerable penalties if convicted.
What is stalking under Florida law?
You may be charged with the crime of stalking if you:
- Follow, harass, cyberstalk, or engage in other types of stalking behaviors; and,
- Your conduct is intentional and malicious, and you engage in it on a repeated basis.
Cyberstalking is stalking through electronic means, such as through use of a computer or smart phone. It includes sending words or images to a person with the intent to cause substantial emotional distress to the recipient. Harassment is a course of conduct directed at a specific person, with the intent to cause emotional distress to the victim.
Are there any legal defenses to stalking?
There are a number of defenses related to civil rights and procedural issues that apply in any criminal case, but there are also specific defenses that you may raise if charged with stalking:
- Constitutionally Protected Activities: If your conduct is protected by the US or Florida Constitution, you may defend stalking charges. For instance, activities like protesting or picketing are protected by the First Amendment.
- Legitimate Purpose: If you have legal, legitimate reason for communicating with the person who alleges you’re stalking him or her, you can raise this as a defense. Examples would be communicating with that individual for business or child custody purposes.
How does the law punish a conviction for stalking?
Florida law designates the offense of stalking as a Third Degree Felony, with a Level 6 rating under the state offense severity ranking. You face up to a year in jail, probation, fines, and a possible restraining order.
Talk to an Experienced Attorney About Defending Stalking Charges
Stalking is a unique crime under Florida in that it doesn’t necessarily require a physical injury to the victim; still, state law punishes this offense severely if you’re convicted. Regardless of the nature of the charges, you’re still entitled to your day in court to fight the allegations and present all available defenses. The key to success in defending against sex crime charges is hiring a criminal defense lawyer that has handled many of these types of cases. Kevin J. Kulik has years of experience fighting on behalf of clients accused of stalking and sex crimes, so please contact our Fort Lauderdale office today. We can answer your questions or schedule a consultation to discuss your options.