Harassment charges in Maryland:
Maryland Criminal Law 3-803 defines harassment. The harassment statute states that an individual may not follow another person in a public place, or maliciously engage in a pattern of repeated conduct that seriously annoys or alarms the victim. In Maryland, the victim can go to the commissioner’s office and file harassment charges without reporting it to the police, and without the police writing a report or arresting the accused person.
Arrested for Harassment in Maryland:
Typically, before the police will make an arrest for harassment, they will consider some or all of the following factors:
- If there is clear intention by the suspect to alarm, harass, or annoy the victim;
- If the facts and circumstances show an unwillingness by the suspect to stop his or her actions after they were given a reasonable warning, or request to stop
- If there was no legal purpose for the suspect’s actions
Exceptions to harassment charges in Maryland:
A valid defense to an harassment charge involves the exception that people providing information or a political view are not committing harassment. Maryland law makes an exception for people who are providing information or expressing a political view. For example, religious groups that provide you a pamphlet when you are walking into a store. You might find that conduct to be annoying or alarming, but it will not be considered harassment. Also, if an election canvasser knocks on your front door to provide you information, generally speaking, that will not be considered harassment. In that situation, the suspect can argue that they were simply engaging in freedom of speech, which is a First Amendment right. As long as the nature of their conduct shows that they were taking part in a “peaceable activity,” then they most likely will not be charged with harassment. Or, if they are charged, they will have a valid defense.
Harassment penalties in Maryland:
In Maryland, harassment is considered a misdemeanor crime. If you are charged with harassment, and it is your first harassment offense, you will face the possibility of imprisonment of up to 90 days and or a fine of up to $500. If you already have a harassment offense on your record, you will face subsequent offender penalties with possible imprisonment of up to 180 days and or a $1,000 fine.
Why you should hire an attorney:
Harassment is a very common criminal charge. These cases often involve one person’s word against another. If you have been charged with harassment, you should hire an attorney that is familiar with how to investigate these cases and the possible harassment defenses applicable due to the facts and circumstances of your specific case. Caroline Norman Frost is a former prosecutor who has handled numerous harassment charges as an Assistant State’s Attorney and as a defense attorney. Call the Law Office Of Caroline Norman Frost for a free consultation today.