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Is It s Crime in Maryland to Harass Someone by Email and Texts?

A lot of people likely feel that email is misused. Bad jokes, impotence cures, chain emails, unwanted political commentary, commercial spam, and outright scams litter everyone’s inbox. But at what point does sending these things become criminal? Experienced Baltimore criminal defense lawyers are aware of the statue that punishes any email that is sent with the purpose of harassing another.

Under Maryland law it is a misdemeanor to maliciously send emails or texts. 1 The charge is a serious one, carrying the potential of 3 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. 

  • that alarm or seriously annoy 
  • with the intent to harass, alarm, or annoy 
  • after being asked to stop
  • without a legal purpose

Source section 3-805, Criminal Law Article.

See also: What is Considered Misuse of Electronic Communication under Maryland Law? 

  -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 4/30/20.


FN 1 "The legislative history for Senate Bill 175, the bill seeking to amend § 3–80512 indicates that the purpose for the amendment was to broaden the scope of the statute to include text messages, internet postings, and other forms of electronic exchange, and therefore, the term “electronic mail” was changed to “electronic communication.” See, e.g., Letter from Women Legislators of the Maryland General Assembly, Inc. to Brian E. Frosh, Chair, Judicial Proceedings Committee (Feb. 8, 2012) (expressing support for SB 175, which was “intended to modernize Maryland's existing electronic harassment statute, to include modes of communication other than electronic mail”); Letter from Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention to Brian E. Frosh, Chair, Judicial Proceedings Committee (Feb. 2, 2012) (“By expanding the crime of harassment to encompass electronic communication, the law is now able to expose criminals and prosecute crimes involving text messaging, social networking, website publications and any other form of electronic exchange as a type of harassment”). Donati v. State, 215 Md. App. 686, 84 A.3d 156 (Md. App. 2014)

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Eric T Kirk

After graduating with honors from Albany Law School in New York, Eric Kirk has spent most of his 25 year legal career battling insurance companies to secure fair and just compensation for his clients in Maryland, New York, and Florida.