Although America recognizes freedom of speech, that freedom ends the moment someone threatens the life of another. Florida, like all states, takes death threats very seriously. Under Florida law, making credible threats that place another person in fear for her life is a felony, punishable by prison time and fines. If the perpetrator is a repeat offender, his punishment may be increased by the court.
Under Florida law, threatening another person's life falls under the category of stalking, defined as willfully, maliciously and repeatedly following, harassing or cyberstalking another person. If the person making death threats intends for the victim to fear for her safety, specifically fearful of death or bodily harm, it is considered a credible threat under the law, which changes the crime from stalking, a first degree misdemeanor, to aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree. Even if the threats cause the victim to fear for the life or safety of her child or other family members, rather than herself, it is still aggravated stalking.
Persons convicted of aggravated stalking in Florida may be sentenced to up to five years in prison, fined up to $5,000 or both. If the stalker is a "habitual violent felony offender," previously convicted of one or more qualifying felonies or conspiracy to commit a felony, such as aggravated stalking, the court may extend his prison sentence to up to 10 years. If the stalker is a "three-time violent felony offender” or "violent career criminal" with more than three violent felony convictions, the court is required to impose a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years and 10 years, respectively.