As of October 1, 2012, the Florida legislature created a fifth type of protective injunction that protects a person against stalking as provided in Florida Statute § 784.0485(1). This type of injunction for protection helps the victim of stalking or cyberstalking seek relieve even if they do not qualify for a domestic violence injunction.
Section 784.0485, Florida Statutes, allows an injunction against stalking or cyberstalking. Many courts in Palm Beach County, FL, have found that if a stalking injunction requires two instances of “stalking,” then at least four prohibited events must be proved by the person seeking the injunction—because a single “stalking” offense requires repeated acts of malicious following, and/or harassment, and/or cyberstalking.
Other courts in Palm Beach County, FL, have found that based on the statutory language of section 784.0485, and the definitions set forth in section 784.048, the injunction provisions of section 784.0485 only require the petitioner to prove a single incident of stalking.
In these cases, it is incumbent on the petitioner to prove stalking by competent, substantial evidence. In many of these cases, the court finds that the evidence is not sufficient because the petitioner only shows single incident which falls short of a malicious “course of conduct” serving “no legitimate purpose.” § 784.048(1)(a), (b) & (2), Fla. Stat.
Attorney for Stalking Protection Injunctions in Palm Beach County, FL
If you were served with an order for protection against stalking, then contact an experienced attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. Our attorneys represent the respondent in these civil but quasi-criminal matters. When the allegations are false or exaggerated, we can help you fight the case to ask the court to dismiss the petition for an injunction for protection
Our attorneys in West Palm Beach, FL, represent clients in other types of injunctions for protection including domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, and stalking.
Call us for a consultation to discuss your case.
Definition of Stalking in Injunction for Protection Cases
By its statutory definition, stalking requires proof of repeated acts of following or harassment. In other words, repeated acts are required for one act of stalking. In Carter v. Malken, 207 So.3d 891, 894 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), the court held that “[a] minimum of two incidents of harassment are required to establish stalking.”
Other courts have held that a stalking injunction requires proof of two or more separate incidences of “stalking.” For instance, in Burns v. Bockorick, 220 So.3d 438, 440 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), the court held that “[i]n order to be entitled to an injunction for stalking, the petitioner must allege and prove two separate instances of stalking.”
As defined in section 784.048(2), Florida Statutes (2016), stalking occurs when a person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person. “Harass” is defined in section 784.048(1)(a) to mean “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.”
Under Florida Statute Section § 784.048(1)(b), the term “course of conduct” is defined as “a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose.”
The History of the Injunction for Stalking Statute
For accusations of stalking under Section 784.046, consider the staff analysis of Senate Bill 950—the precursor to chapter 2012–153, §§ 3, 6, Laws of Fla. (2012). This statute created the cause of action for an injunction against stalking. 133 So.3d 1203 n.2. The analysis provided;
“The ‘statutory cause of action for an injunction for protection against stalking … is similar to the current cause[ ] of action for [an] injunction[ ] against repeat violence.’ ”
Id. (quoting Fla. S. Crim. Justice Comm., SB 950 (2012), Staff Analysis (Jan. 24, 2012)).
The need for an injunction specifically directed to the act of stalking was needed, because up to that point, a person could only pursue injunctive relief through either the domestic violence injunction statute or the repeat violence injunction statute. The pleading requirements of each of those statutes are more onerous. For instance, the repeat violence injunction statute requires “two incidents of stalking.” Fla. S. Crim. Justice Comm., SB 950 (2012), Staff Analysis at 4 (Jan. 24, 2012).
Finding a Lawyer for Stalking Protective Orders in West Palm Beach, FL
Section 784.0485(1), Florida Statutes (2016), “create[s] a cause of action for an injunction for protection against stalking.” As explained in Florida Statute § 784.0485(1)(f), the petition for an injunction for protection against stalking may be filed and heard in Palm Beach County, FL, when:
- the petitioner currently or temporarily resides in Palm Beach County;
- where the respondent resides in Palm Beach County; or
- where the stalking occurred in Palm Beach County.
If you were served with an injunction for protection against stalking, then contact an experienced attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. in West Palm Beach, FL. We also represent clients in injunction hearings for protection from domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence and sexual violence.
Call (561) 557-8686 today.
This article was last updated on Friday, April 27, 2018.