Increase in Florida Stalking Crimes Prompts Local Push for Change
In 2009, a 31-year-old West Palm Beach woman gave her business card to a man in a thrift store, after which he continuously, even several times a day, professed his love for her over text message, email, Facebook, and even on her business website. It led the woman to get a concealed weapons permit, as she feared for her life. It was not until 2011 that the woman was able to get a restraining order. According to the Sun-Sentinel, stalking cases such as this one have been on the rise across most of Florida, which has caused concern from social-service agencies that believe such increases may lead to more murders and rapes.
Florida stalking crimes increased by 11 percent between 2008 and 2010. Palm Beach County increased by 13 percent, which is greater than the overall increase statewide. Conversely, Broward County stalking crimes surprisingly decreased by 31 percent during the same time period. The reason for such a sharp decline is unknown.
The increase in Florida stalking crimes has prompted various agencies to reassess the system. Palm Beach County agencies are pushing for changes in the way stalking cases are handled. The county, in fact, received a $300,000 grant for the purpose of establishing a system to ensure that stalking victims have the support and resources they need.
Stalking, whether in person or through technology, is a misdemeanor in Florida, unless it involves threats of bodily harm or death, or the alleged victim is a minor under 16 years of age, in which case it becomes a felony. Although proving a stalking case can be difficult, a conviction can carry severe penalties.
If you have been accused of stalking in Florida, the experienced Palm Beach County stalking crime defense attorneys at Musca Law can effectively protect your legal rights and build a strong defense on your behalf. To learn more, call us today for a confidential consultation at (800) 687-2252.