Recent Florida Case Reveals What Is Needed to Justify a Stalking Injunction
What evidence is needed to support a permanent injunction against stalking? This was precisely the question at issue in a recent case heard by the 1st District Court of Appeals.
In the case of Pickett v. Copeland, the appellate court heard a case where a man, Mr. Pickett, alleged he was “deprived of due process” during a hearing that led to a permanent injunction against stalking. In simplest terms, this meant the man in question was forever prevented from stalking the alleged victim.
In turn, the man accused of stalking made the legal argument that there was not enough legally sufficient evidence to support the injunction based on Florida law. The 1st District Court of Appeals ultimately agreed with Mr. Pickett’s argument, and here is why.
Florida Law on Stalking
Florida statutes help clarify precisely what stalking is and how an injunction against stalking ought to be issued. Section 784.048(2) of The 2017 Florida Statutes defines stalking. According to this section, a person who “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person and makes a credible threat to that person” has committed the first degree misdemeanor offense of stalking.
If such an offense has been committed, a stalking victim may then pursue a petition for an injunction for protection against stalking, pursuant to Section 784.0485 of The 2017 Florida Statutes.
The question in this case, is whether Florida law was appropriately applied to the facts of Pickett v. Copeland.
The Evidence in the Pickett v. Copeland Case Was Neither Competent Nor Substantial
The appellate court in the case makes clear that a petitioner seeking injunction must prove only a single incident of stalking. This discussion occurred because of the “repeatedly” language in the Florida stalking statute previously referenced, but the court rejected the appellant’s legal assertion that repeated incidents of stalking were necessary to support an injunction.
However, a petitioner seeking a stalking injunction is also required by Florida law to prove a stalking allegation by providing “competent, substantial evidence.” Accordingly, the court found that the evidence provided by Ms. Copeland was scant, convoluted and altogether confusing when trying to understand the conflicting narrative that unfolded.
Based on the lack of clear evidence, the 1st District Court found that the evidence was neither “competent nor substantial” enough to warrant a permanent injunction against stalking.
The important takeaway of the case, then, appears to be as follows: A stalking victim need provide only a single incident of stalking that is supported by competent, substantial evidence in order to justify a permanent injunction against stalking.
If you have any questions about how to protect yourself from stalking or similarly malicious, harassing behavior, contact The McKinney Law Group for a legal consultation to discuss how we can preserve your legal right to safety.
If you have questions for a Tampa divorce lawyer, or are unaware of the terms and conditions of a Tampa divorce, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]