Cyber-stalking is both a unique and problematic crime for which the Florida legislature has enacted a set of laws that seems to function quite well. According to Criminal Lawyers that were interviewed at recent defense seminar in Fort Lauderdale, this is due to the immediate and almost effortless ability of the alleged victim to restrain a perpetrators liberty very quickly. Restraining orders, also called injunctions, can be filed at the circuit court of the area where the victim may live, either temporarily or permanently.
Temporary Restraining Order Against Cyberstalking
A victim can file for an injunction for one or more incidents of cyber-stalking. The assigned judge will grant an ex parte temporary injunction order if certain criteria are met and/or there is clear immediate danger of the act being committed by the stalker. This order prohibits the stalker from not only contacting you but also would seem to ban the respondent from even talking about the victim publicly. An injunction order prohibits an alleged stalker from establishing any form of contact. This order holds good for 15 days, after which a hearing is held, provided that said respondent is properly served with notice. This hearing is held for the sole purpose of determining if a permanent order should be put into place.
The final injunction order can be for a few months or indefinately. The final injunction order in a cyber-stalking case contains all the guidelines of the temporary order and additionally makes it binding on the stalker to undergo counseling and/or treatment services for which he or she is financially responsible for. Florida Cyber-Stalking Punishments
Apart from the above-mentioned restraining orders that can protect an individual from cyber-stalking, the laws of the state also lay down stringent rules to punish offenders.
Violation of Restraining Order Against Stalking Under Fla. Stat. 784.0485
784.0485 Stalking; injunction; powers and duties of court and clerk; petition; notice and hearing; temporary injunction; issuance of injunction; statewide verification system; enforcement.—
(1) There is created a cause of action for an injunction for protection against stalking. For the purposes of injunctions for protection against stalking under this section, the offense of stalking shall include the offense of cyberstalking.
(a) A person who is the victim of stalking or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home who seeks an injunction for protection against stalking on behalf of the minor child has standing in the circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against stalking.
(b) The cause of action for an injunction for protection may be sought regardless of whether any other cause of action is currently pending between the parties. However, the pendency of any such cause of action shall be alleged in the petition.
(c) The cause of action for an injunction may be sought by any affected person.
(d) The cause of action for an injunction does not require either party to be represented by an attorney.
(e) The court may not issue mutual orders of protection; however, the court is not precluded from issuing separate injunctions for protection against stalking if each party has complied with this section. Compliance with this section may not be waived.
(f) Notwithstanding chapter 47, a petition for an injunction for protection against stalking may be filed in the circuit where the petitioner currently or temporarily resides, where the respondent resides, or where the stalking occurred. There is no minimum requirement of residency to petition for an injunction for protection.
(2)(a) Notwithstanding any other law, the clerk of court may not assess a filing fee to file a petition for protection against stalking. However, subject to legislative appropriation, the clerk of the circuit court may, on a quarterly basis, submit to the Office of the State Courts Administrator a certified request for reimbursement for petitions for protection against stalking issued by the court, at the rate of $40 per petition. The request for reimbursement shall be submitted in the form and manner prescribed by the Office of the State Courts Administrator. From this reimbursement, the clerk shall pay any law enforcement agency serving the injunction the fee requested by the law enforcement agency; however, this fee may not exceed $20.
(b) A bond is not required by the court for the entry of an injunction.
(c)1. The clerk of the court shall assist petitioners in seeking both injunctions for protection against stalking and enforcement of a violation thereof as specified in this section.
2. All offices of the clerk of the court shall provide simplified petition forms for the injunction and any modifications to and the enforcement thereof, including instructions for completion.
3. The clerk of the court shall ensure the petitioner’s privacy to the extent practicable while completing the forms for an injunction for protection against stalking.
4. The clerk of the court shall provide a petitioner with a minimum of two certified copies of the order of injunction, one of which is serviceable and will inform the petitioner of the process for service and enforcement.
5. The clerk of the court and appropriate staff in each county shall receive training in the effective assistance of petitioners as provided or approved by the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers.
6. The clerk of the court in each county shall make available informational brochures on stalking when such a brochure is provided by the local certified domestic violence center or certified rape crisis center.
7. The clerk of the court in each county shall distribute a statewide uniform informational brochure to petitioners at the time of filing for an injunction for protection against stalking when such brochures become available. The brochure must include information about the effect of giving the court false information.
(3)(a) The sworn petition shall allege the existence of such stalking and shall include the specific facts and circumstances for which relief is sought.