In the past, stalking and bullying someone required being in the physical presence of the victim. This is no longer the case. Advances in technology have made it so a person can now stalk or harass another person from the comfort of their own home. They can use their computer or phone to email or text someone. They can also go online and harass someone through social media.
This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but this type of bullying has serious emotional effects on the victim. Some victims have even committed suicide over the nasty messages they have received from their online harassers.
Cyberstalking and cyberbullying are two internet crimes that are on the rise. That’s because more and more teens are online nowadays, and those engaging in the stalking and bullying feel as though they are anonymous. They are not, though, and they can face serious penalties for engaging in these acts.
Many states have laws forbidding these online electronic acts. Maryland has a couple laws in place.
In 2013, Maryland passed “Grace’s Law,” which made it a misdemeanor to bully someone through the use of a computer or cell phone. An amendment to this law, “Grace’s Law 2.0” was created and passed earlier this year specifically to prevent social media bullying. The purpose of the law is to protect against online messages that are “egregious” in nature and intended to personally harm another person.
Grace’s Law 2.0, formally known as Senate bill 726, would increase penalties for those who threaten or defame a minor or the parent of a minor. A person could face a $10,000 fine and three years in prison. If a person entices a minor to commit suicide, the jail term is extended to 10 years.
The scope of social media cyberbullying has been broadened to prohibit the creation of fake social media profiles to harass a minor. Also prohibited are distributing pictures from a minor’s social media account and telling a minor to “go kill yourself”
Under state code § 3-805, misuse of electronic mail is defined as the use of any electronic device to transmit information with the intention of harassing a person. Such devices covered under this law include cell phones, computers and tablet PCs. Misuse of electronic mail is classified as a misdemeanor, with penalties including one year in jail and a $500 fine.
Under § 3-805.1, sending commercial emails to large groups of people to harass them is also illegal. This crime is typically a misdemeanor, with punishment including five years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
Unfortunately, stalking and bullying is so much easier to do nowadays thanks to technology. To keep up, many states have laws in place prohibiting such actions.
It’s important to understand your legal rights, since the laws surrounding internet crimes can be confusing. The Columbia internet crime lawyers at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. have experience with these types of crimes and can protect your rights. Schedule a free consultation today by filling out the online form or calling (410) 774-5987.
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