Unlike with Petitions for Injunction for Protection from Domestic Violence/Dating Violence/Sexual Violence there are no specific requirements related to the relationship between the parties or any additional acts that must be done by the Petitioner to obtain an Injunction for Protection from Stalking. In fact, the definition of stalking under Florida law is much broader than many people realize, which allows Petitioners to get protection from a variety of harassing behavior. The requirements for an Injunction for Protection from Stalking are:

    1. Petitioner must be the victim of stalking or cyberstalking by the Respondent.
      • Stalking is defined as:
        • Willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person.
        • Harassing 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
        • Cyberstalking means:
          • To engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or 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
          • To access, or attempt to access, the online accounts or Internet-connected home electronic system of another person without that person’s permission,
          • Causing substantial emotion distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.
        • Course of conduct means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose.
      • These definitions are somewhat complicated, but the requirements to keep in mind are:
  • A Petitioner does not have to be attacked or physically hurt by the Respondent in order to obtain an Injunction for Protection from Stalking. Nothing in the definition of stalking requires physical contact or that the Petitioner even see the Respondent.
  • There need to be at least two separate acts in order to create a “course of conduct,” so a single act of harassment is not enough. However, the time between these acts doesn’t have to be very long. There are cases in which the court has found that three separate acts over the course of about 90 minutes was enough to establish a “course of conduct.”
  • It’s important to consider if there is a legitimate purpose. This is a very vague standard that can cover countless situations. For example, a court has found that a wife angrily and repeatedly calling her husband’s mistress to try to get the affair to stop is a legitimate purpose.

Whether or not a person has suffered substantial emotional distress is based on a “reasonable person standard.” Simply put, just because a Petitioner feels they have suffered substantial emotion distress as a result of the Respondent’s behavior does not necessarily mean that the court has the power to issue an Injunction for Protection. It will all depend on whether or not the court believes that a reasonable person in the Petitioner’s situation would suffer substantial emotional distress.

If you are in need of an Injunction for Protection, contact us to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys, (727)954-3720.

 

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