|Published:||Sep 26, 2012 6:23 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Sep 26, 2012 6:45 PM EDT|
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's a story you hear about all too often. A woman asks a judge for protection from a stalker but in some cases, the judge says there is nothing he can do because of the law. Starting Monday, that will change.
Loni Amber Turner knew she was in danger. She asked for a restraining order but couldn't convince a judge the danger was credible or imminent. Her stalker killed her.
"I could still have my daughter possible if this had gone through," said Cheryl Dixon, Loni's mother.
Alissa Blanton. She also lived in fear after dealing with harassing emails and parking lot confrontations. Her stalker finally shot her to death right in front of her new husband.
Turner and Blanton represent many more women who lived in terror until their deaths. Florida State Senator David Simmons is the author of Florida's new stalking law.
"You can imagine all the circumstances that exist in which a woman is stalked," said Simmons.
The measure that takes effect on Monday eliminates the provision that forced a woman to prove a threat of bodily injury or death. Now all a woman has to do is show she is in reasonable fear for her own safety or the safety of her family and close friends. But not every stalker threatens a woman's life.
"You can get a thousand emails a day. You can have someone stand outside your house and watch you or follow you or get in his car and follow you and never makes a threat that he's going to hurt you or kill you," said Simmons.
So the new standard allows judges to help women they previously turned away. As a result, Simmons expects judges to grant more injunctions but sometimes injunctions don't work.
"The great thing about the injunction is that if it is violated then it is a criminal penalty," said Simmons.
And Simmons' hope is that now judges will have the power to issue injunctions sooner, they'll be able to stop stalking scares before they turn tragic.
"You have a mechanism to keep someone away and have an order to keep someone away. We didn't have that in place and now we do," Simmons.
Cyberstalking is also covered under this new law so the threat doesn't have to be physical and women don't need to hire an expensive attorney anymore. There will be easy use forms if a woman does need help.