Maryland Updates Stalking Laws to Include Modern Technology

by Patrick Herron
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The criminal definition of stalking has been updated by the Maryland General Assembly to include electronic communications that can track individuals without their consent, such as geotagging.  Previously, an individual would have to be physically followed by a stalker in person.  House Bill 148  was signed by Governor Larry Hogan on April 21 and alters the definition of stalking to include “conduct that occurs in person, through electronic communication, or through the use of a device that can pinpoint or track the location of another without the person’s knowledge or consent.” The new law will go into effect on October 1.

According to the law, “stalking” means a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another where the person intends to place or knows or reasonably should have known the conduct would place another in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury; of an assault in any degree, rape or sexual offense, false imprisonment, death, or that a third person likely will suffer any of the acts listed, or the person intends to cause or knows or reasonably should have known that the conduct would cause serious emotional distress to another. A person who violates this could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.

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