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Stalking

St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyers Defending The Accused

Sometimes the criminal laws that we think will be the most simple actually turn out to be the most complicated. As criminal defense attorneys, we spend our days pouring over the criminal statute books attempting to find defenses for our clients to exploit. In doing so, we look for patterns in criminal laws and try to find an overall theme. In truth, in the time we have been doing that, we have failed to find any discernable pattern or though process that goes into the design of criminal laws. It is important to realize that laws are often put together in a slapdash manner as a result of special interest lobbying and not as a result of competent research and development.

One of the laws that falls victim to this process is the law criminalizing stalking and harassment. Anti domestic violence organizations, while they certainly represent a worthy cause, had a hand in crafting the wording of the law. This influence has resulted in an often overbroad and confusing criminal statute that extends to many people that it should not. If you have been charged with the offense of stalking or cyberstalking, don’t try to dissect the statute on your own, contact a competent criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg to help you out.

Elements of Stalking

Florida Statute 784.048 criminalizes the act of stalking or cyberstalking. The statute provides a list of increasingly complicated definitions of what stalking actually is. That increased complication causes difficulty for those who have been charged with the offense. Under the statute, stalking is defined as the willful, malicious and repeated following, harassing or cyberstalking of another person. The statute also provides sub-definitions of each of those terms.

Harassment is defined as a course of conduct directed at a person that causes “severe emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose.” A skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney can look at the wording of that statute and see opportunities for defense. For example, a client charged with stalking by harassment may have caused a victim severe emotional distress, but the claim may be deficient as to one of the other elements. If the defense can show that their client did not engage in a “course of conduct” or a pattern of acts over a period of time, then the elements have not been met and the defendant should be found not guilty. Similarly, if there is a legitimate purpose to the conduct, even if it causes emotional distress, then no crime has been committed.

More recently, cyberstalking has become an issue in our society. With the advent of social media, it has become far easier for people to communicate with one another. While this is a great development for people who want to be in communication, it also results in people being empowered to engage in unwanted communication. Cyberstalking is defined by the law as engaging in a “course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication directed at a specific person, or accessing or attempting to access the online accounts or internent-connected home electronic systems of another person without that person’s permission, causing substantial emotional distress.

Cyberstalking, because it often involves the use of the internet, communication technology, and social media, can be much more difficult to prove. The more complicated technology becomes, the more complicated legal evidentiary issues arise. If you are facing charges for cyberstalking, you should contact a skilled St. Petersburg criminal lawyer with experience with technology related offenses who can craft the best defense for you.

Speak to Our Lawyers Today

The attorneys at Hanlon Law are ready and able to defend you whether facing minor or serious charges. We have the skills and experience to obtain the very best results for you. Consult with us today at (727) 897-5413.

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As a practicing attorney, I was shocked to hear that a family member of mine was alleged to have committed a sex crime. Knowing full well the consequences this type of allegation can have on anyone and their future, I immediately reached out to William Hanlon for help. I had every confidence that Mr. Hanlon had the knowledge, expertise, and experience to handle this problem. Approximately 4 weeks from an initial conference with Mr. Hanlon, we received a call with the news that a letter of release was being issued and the case was being dropped. Now my family member can finally exhale, take a deep breath, and go on with his life. Thank you, William! Jerry
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Was on the ball. Remembered names, events, places, situations. Never need to re explain the situation. Keeps in touch through out the entire experience and keeps you feeling safe, comforted and protected. Fights hard. Worth every single penny. Would never settle for anything less than Will. Carrie
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I was facing a charge that if convicted would carry two years in prison minimally. Not only was he empathetic and listening to what I had to say but he arranged with the prosecutor for my charges not to be filed under terms of a pre trial investigation. Would highly recommend. Alec
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I am very happy for what he did for me. Always there when I needed him. Explained everything well. He Fights for his clients. He got me what I needed. Hes an excellent lawyer. Mutaz
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Mr. Hanlon did what no other lawyer could do. Not only did he turn my criminal history into a thing of the past so I could move on, he was a loyal associate. No matter how bad the situation is, he has miraculously cleared me on every charge since he became my lawyer 5 years ago. I have the best lawyer that the legal system has to offer. I have had other really good lawyers try to get my business, but I know that no one can do a better job than William Hanlon. Jesse