2014 MD HB17 expands reach of criminal law, use of internet

HB 17, sponsored by Delegate Cardin, changes the language of criminal law 3-805.  Currently, the law reads, in part,

(2) A person may not use an interactive computer service to maliciously engage in a course of conduct that inflicts serious emotional distress on a minor or places a minor in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury with the intent:
(i) to kill, injure, harass, or cause serious emotional distress to the minor; or
(ii) to place the minor in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.

This bill would change, “minor” to “another person”, expanding the breadth of the law.  These were already crimes before the above was put into law.

The problem with subjective language is just that - it’s subjective.  There is not a legal standard for “serious emotional distress”, only judgments in other cases.  (While some may refer to this as, “case law”, judges are not given the power to make law - only legislators may make law.)  So a judge that makes a bad decision may set, “precedent” for other bad decisions.

Hearing in Judiciary committee, 1/28/14 at 1:00 p.m.