Understanding the Line Between Persistence and “Stalking” When It Comes to a Dating Violence Injunction
In movies, characters are often rewarded for chasing after a love interest even after they tell them repeatedly to stop. In real life, such behavior is often considered “stalking” can get you slapped with a dating violence injunction. This is why you need to proceed carefully when someone tells they are not interested in pursuing a further relationship–and especially when they retain an attorney to send you a cease and desist letter.
Judge “Flabbergasted” by Man’s Decision to Ignore Cease and Desist Letter from Ex-Girlfriend
If you think that sounds over the top, consider this recent decision from the Florida First District Court of Appeal, Khan v. Deutschman. The petitioner and the respondent in this case dated for several months, although they could not agree as to the exact length of the relationship. Both sides acknowledged in court, however, that it was effectively an “on again, off again” relationship.
Sometime in 2017, the parties broke up and had a “public falling out” after the respondent saw the petitioner with another man. The two then exchanged a series of text messages, which ended with the petitioner telling the respondent that “she never wanted to talk to him again.” The petitioner subsequently blocked the respondent from contacting her via phone or social media.
Despite this, the respondent made “repeated efforts” over the next several months to contact the petitioner. This eventually prompted the petitioner to hire an attorney, who sent the respondent a cease and desist letter. When the respondent persisted, the petitioner filed for a dating violence injunction.
The judge said he was “flabbergasted” the respondent would ignore the cease and desist letter and said the respondent’s behavior amounted to “hectoring” the petitioner. Accordingly, the judge issued a one-year dating violence injunction against the respondent.
The respondent appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support the injunction. The Florida First District Court of Appeal disagreed and affirmed the injunction. The appeals court said this was effectively a case of “stalking,” which is a behavior that can justify a dating or domestic violence injunction. Under Florida law, stalking requires proof that the respondent was “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follow[ing], harass[ing], or cyberstalk[ing]” the petitioner. It does not require proof of any “direct act of violence,” as the stalking itself is considered violence.
Here, the First District noted the petitioner “unequivocally informed” the respondent their relationship was over and she wanted no further contact with him. When the respondent ignored this, she sent the cease and desist letter, which he also ignored. The appeals court noted this conduct was not harmless. Indeed, the petitioner told the trial court that the respondent’s continued unwanted contact caused her “anxiety and panic attacks.” Given all this, the First District said the dating violence injunction was appropriate.
Speak with a Florida Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Today
If things reach the point where a former partner has an attorney send you a cease and desist letter, you need to take the situation seriously. Do not take this as “playing hard to get.” And if someone does seek a court order of protection against you, speak with a qualified Miami domestic violence defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos today if you need immediate assistance.