Maryland lawmakers have updated the criminal definition of stalking to include electronic means and the use of devices that track locations without consent. Electronic stalking and geotagging were not covered under the old definition. The change takes effect Oct. 1, 2022.
Stalking in Maryland is defined as “a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another” in a way that would place that person in reasonable fear. Under the old definition, stalking had to be in person and the targeted person was followed physically. The new law takes into account the technology stalkers have started using to track their victims.
Gov. Larry Hogan signed the amendments into law on April 21, 2022.
Technology-based stalking can occur in a number of different ways.
Advocates against domestic abuse described stalkers who take advantage of digital technology to harass their victims. For example, abusers have placed devices in victims’ vehicles to keep track of where they travel. The new law specifies that stalking can occur “through the use of a device that can pinpoint or track the location of another without the person’s knowledge or consent.”
In custody cases, there have been incidents of recording devices placed in a child’s toy to monitor conversations.
Some stalkers have placed a device on computers that records keystrokes and, as a result, tracks the victims’ internet activity.
In some cases, cameras and microphones have been placed in a victim’s home without their knowledge. One woman said stalkers have hacked so-called “smart homes” so they can control the heat or air conditioning or play music night and day.
The new law allows judges considering restraining orders to incorporate evidence of digital stalking when considering restraining orders.
Stalking remains a misdemeanor under the updated law.
The maximum penalty is five years jail time. Fines of up to $5,000 can also be awarded.
Separately, the case against a former Baltimore City prosecutor accused of stalking his ex-girlfriends is headed to trial. The man rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors.
If you are facing criminal charges, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney. An Ocean City criminal defense lawyer will work to get the charges dropped or pleaded down to something less serious. The attorneys at Maronick Law LLC have experience with stalking charges.
Maronick Law, LLC is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Glen Burnie, Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Ocean City, Towson, White Marsh criminal defense lawyer needs.
If you have access to Zoom, we can meet with you remotely. The consultation is free. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.881.4022 or via the website.