Florida defines sexual harassment as a “means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.” This type of negative behavior may be considered harassment, which also broadly includes internet messages of a negative, or obscene nature, and sending text messages, and emails which are considered inappropriate by common decency standards, set by the court.
Florida Harassment laws include the very important Florida stalking statute, Title XLVI Chapter 784 Section 048. This law, protects those who are willfully, maliciously and repeatedly victimized by stalking, exposed to harassment or cyberstalks. The Florida stalking law is a misdemeanor of the first degree, which is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.
Based on the court’s interpretation, stalking must involve a “credible threat,” therefore considered aggravated stalking. A credible threat means that, in the course of stalking, the stalker makes a threat involving, unwanted following, verbally harassing and continuous unwanted contact. Aggravated stalking in Florida is a felony of the third degree, making it punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.
Florida law also classifies cyberstalking, or internet stalking as a misdemeanor of the second degree, meaning it is punishable by imprisonment of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500.
Harassment Restraining Order in Florida
If a resident of Florida or visitor, is found guilty of stalking or harassment, part of the punishment can be establishing a simple restraining order, which forbids the offender from any contact, with the victim. This is generally considered the first level of court activities. The court will then set the duration of the restraining order, which can be up to a maximum of 10 years depending on the possibility of the offender’s background & likelihood of future violations.
Victim’s of stalking who want the protection of a restraining order can file a petition with the circuit court for a simple civil restraining order. Documentation of past stalking/harassing activities is essential, which should include dates, times and any witnesses. The judge may issue a temporary restraining order for up to 15 days based on the petition alone if in their legal judgment you are in immediate danger.
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