In today’s digital and hyperconnected world, personal boundaries can sometimes be blurred. This can lead to situations that result in charges related to harassment and stalking. Maryland, like many states, takes these offenses seriously and has specific laws in place to address them. If you’ve received stalking charges in Maryland or you’re looking to press charges for harassment and stalking, here’s what you need to know.
What Is Harassment?
Maryland defines harassment as maliciously engaging in repeated conduct that bothers or scares the victim, including things that have the intent to alarm, abuse, torment, or harass. Harassment can take a variety of forms, including things like threats, unwanted communications, or other actions that lead to emotional distress. It is important to note that harassment does not need to happen in person. It can also occur online or over the phone. Maryland law carves out exceptions for those expressing political views or giving information. For example, someone canvassing for an election could not be charged with harassment.
What Is Stalking?
Stalking charges in Maryland are very serious, and harassment and stalking can go hand in hand in some cases. Stalking is defined as maliciously pursuing or approaching someone else. The person being charged with stalking must have known or reasonably should have known that their actions would impact the victim and lead to fear of harm. Fear of harm includes legitimate fear of sexual assault, assault, serious physical harm, death, or false imprisonment.
Some people misinterpret stalking as all unwanted contact, but that is not the case. For example, going over to an ex-girlfriend’s house to collect your personal belongings that are there one time is not generally stalking. However, if you show up multiple times with no reason or an illegitimate reason with the goal of intimidating or upsetting your ex-girlfriend, that could be considered stalking. As the result of laws put into place in late 2022, stalking can include digital technology, like trackers placed on a vehicle or hidden cameras placed in a home.
How Are They Different?
Harassment and stalking are two separate charges in Maryland, and stalking has more serious consequences. Harassment is a misdemeanor, and the first offense can carry a $500 fine or prison for up to 90 days. However, stalking is a misdemeanor that can lead to fines up to $5,000 and prison up to 5 years.
Contact Mobley & Brown, LLP for Help With Your Harassment and Stalking Case
If you have experienced harassment and stalking or you are the recipient of stalking charges in Maryland, you need the right legal assistance. Our experienced legal team is looking forward to working with you to meet your needs. Call us now at (410) 385-0398.