Florida Statutes define stalking as:
- Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person commits the offense of stalking. This is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a maximum fine of $1000.00 and or 1 year in jail.
- Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another, and makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in fear of death or bodily injury, has committed the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable by a maximum fine of $5000.00 and/or 5 years in state prison.
- To "harass" means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.
- The term "stalking" is commonly used to describe specific kinds of behavior directed at a particular person, such as harassing or threatening another person. Virtually any unwanted contact between a stalker and their victim which directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can generally be referred to as stalking.
How Do I File a Complaint Under Florida's Stalking Statute?
Contact the UPD at 904-620-2800, or local law enforcement if the incident occurs off-campus, to report a suspected stalker. You will need to provide dates and times of specific behaviors in order to establish the pattern of harassing activity. This will establish "probable cause" the stalker engaged in conduct that is illegal under Florida's stalking law. If a law enforcement official does not witness such conduct first-hand, it may be up to the victim to provide the evidence necessary. Documentation of stalking should be saved and given to law enforcement. Documentation of the actions of the stalker may be useful in future complaints, for evidentiary or to establish credibility. Documentation may take the form of photos of destroyed property, photos of any injuries inflicted on the victim by the perpetrator, answering machine messages saved on tape, letters or notes written by the perpetrator. A victim should keep a written log of any crimes or suspicious activities committed by the stalker.
What Can I Do?
- While a stalking victim may not be in imminent danger, the potential always exists. Making a contingency plan may help. Suggested items to include in such a plan are:
- Take all threats seriously.
- Travel with others or inform a friend of your departure and expected arrival times.
- Report all suspicious activity to law enforcement.
- Keep notes, answering machine tapes or other items that document the stalkers actions.
- Alert critical people, who may be useful in formulating a contingency plan, such as: law enforcement, employers, family, friends, or neighbors, and security personnel.
- Install solid core doors with dead bolts on all exterior doors of your home.
- Install adequate outside lighting.
- Trim back bushes and vegetation around residence.
- Maintain an unlisted phone number.
- Notify local law enforcement, but also keep a written log of harassing calls and any answering machine tapes of calls with the stalker's voice and messages.
- Treat any threats as legitimate and inform law enforcement immediately.
- Vary travel routes, stores and restaurants, etc., which are regularly used. Limit time walking, jogging, alone etc.
- Inform a trusted neighbor or coworker about the situation. Provide them with a photo or description of the suspect and any possible vehicles he/she may drive.
- If residing in an apartment with an on-site property manager, provide the manager with a picture of the suspect.
- Have co-workers screen all calls and visitors.
For assistance with this crime or any other occurring on campus contact the UPD at 904-620-2800 or 911 for emergencies.