Injunction for Protection from Cyberstalking

Section 784.0485(1), Florida Statutes, provides for a civil cause of action for an injunction for protection against stalking, including cyberstalking.

For purposes of an order for protection from cyberstalking, the term “cyberstalk” is defined as engaging “in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.”

The elements of cyberstalking are:

  1. electronic communications
  2. directed to a specific person
  3. causing substantial emotional distress
  4. serving no legitimate purpose

The courts have interpreted section 784.0485 with reference to the definitions found in section 784.048, which makes stalking under certain conditions a criminal offense, and refer to section 784.046 (providing for protective injunctions for victims of repeat violence) and the cases interpreting that statute for guidance.

The legislature created Section 784.048(1)(d)(1) as amended by chapter 19-167, section 31, Laws of Florida.

Attorney for Injunctions for Protection from Cyberstalking

If you were served with an injunction for protection from stalking or cyberstalking, then contact an experienced attorney at Sammis Law Firm. We represent the respondent who wishes to contest false or exaggerated allegations of stalking or cyberstalking. We also represent clients accused of domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence, or sexual violence.

Injunctions for protection are serious matters. An attorney can help you at every step of the process. Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We have a second office in New Port Richey in Pasco County and a third office in Clearwater in Pinellas County, FL.

If you need an attorney for a cyberstalking petition for an order of protection, contact us today. Call 813-250-0500.

Connection with Allegations of Stalking in Section 784.046

In Caterino v. Torello, 276 So. 3d 88, 92 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019), the court reasoned that “Section 784.0485 . . . provides for injunctive relief from stalking. The pertinent statutory definitions are found in section 784.048.

In Leach v. Kersey, 162 So. 3d 1104, 1106 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015), the court concluded that “Section 784.0485 . . . is analyzed with guidance from the statute governing injunctions against repeat violence, section 784.046.”).

Likewise, in Touhey v. Seda, 133 So. 3d 1203, 1203 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014), the court found that “[g]iven the statute’s recent [enactment], support for our holding comes from cases analyzing allegations of stalking in the context of section 784.046 . . . .”

Appeals of Injunctions for Protection from Cyberstalking

The trial court has broad discretion to grant an injunction. The appellate court reviews an order imposing a permanent injunction for a clear abuse of discretion. But the question of whether the evidence is legally sufficient to justify imposing an injunction is a question of law that it reviews on a de novo basis. See Pickett v. Copeland, 236 So. 3d 1142, 1143-44 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018) (citations omitted).

As a result, the appellate court will affirm an injunction for protection against stalking under section 784.0485 if it is supported by competent, substantial evidence. See Touhey, 133 So. 3d at 1204.

Limitations of Injunctions for Protection

Florida courts have repeatedly stated that the injunction statutes “are not a panacea to be used to cure all social ills. In fact, nowhere in the statutory catalog of improper behavior is there a provision for court-ordered relief against uncivil behavior.” Polanco v. Cordeiro, 67 So. 3d 235, 238 (Fla. 2d DCA 2010) (Villanti, J., concurring).

In Power v. Boyle, 60 So. 3d 496, 498 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011), the court explained that the courts may not enter injunctions “simply ‘to keep the peace’ between parties who, for whatever reason, are unable to get along and behave civilly towards each other.” In Horne v. Endres, 61 So. 3d 428, 429 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011), the court noted that even the courts are “without plenary power to enjoin citizens to remain on good behavior.”

This article was last updated on Friday, July 31, 2020.