In 2013, Maryland created “Grace’s Law,” which made it
a misdemeanor to cyberbully another person through the use of a cell phone
or computer. Now, the law gets an update for 2018.
Referred to as “Grace’s Law 2.0,” the new law unanimously passed a Maryland Senate vote last month
to amend the law to include cyberbullying through social media. Sen. Robert
A. Zirkin, was the bill’s sponsor, and he noted that the 2013 law
was not as comprehensive as it needed to be.
Grace’s Law 2.0
Grace’s Law 2.0, or Senate Bill 726, seeks to increase the penalties
for defamatory or threatening statements made about a minor, or a parent
of a minor. The current law imposes a one-year maximum sentence and a
$500 maximum fine. The revised law would make it a three-year sentence
and fine of $10,000. There is a special clause that indicates the jail
time would increase to 10 years if the accused suggests the minor should
The new law also goes on to discuss cyberbullying in social media. This
would apply to people who create fake social media profiles with the intent
to harm or torment another student. You cannot log into a minor’s
social media account and post any photos, and most importantly, it removes
the free speech protection against phrases like “go kill yourself.”
History of Grace’s Law
The original law was passed after Grace McComas, a student at Glenelg High
School, took her own life after being harassed for months on Facebook
and Twitter. The family went to the police when Grace was still alive,
and neither the courts nor police could do anything to assist. Unable
to cope with the repeated attacks, the 15-year-old student took her own
life. After that, her parents led the movement to get a law passed in
Maryland that would help protect other minors in Grace’s position.
Grace’s mother, Christine McComas, remains an anti-bullying advocate
and was present during the Senate hearing last month. She noted that the
current Grace’s Law resulted in 576 charges between July 2016 and
Opposition to Grace’s Law
There is a lot of opposition to Grace’s Law 2.0, especially from
the ACLU of Maryland, who declared both this and the original law to be
unconstitutional. They claim both laws are a First Amendment violation
to the right of free speech, and some victims may unintentionally be harmed
by Grace’s Law. David Rocah, attorney for the Maryland ACLU, points
out that some of the unintended consequences of this law could mean a
rape victim who accuses her attacker online may have the sexual conduct
language in Grace’s Law used against her. The section that discusses
sending images could keep someone from pointing out truthfully that another
student attends Nazi rallies.
Instead, Rocah says the state can prosecute cyberbullies under a longstanding
harassment statute that has been upheld by the courts over the years.
Retaining a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney
If you have a child who is experiencing cyberbullying or some other form
of harassment, you may have a claim for civil damages in addition to criminal
charges and fines. It is important to retain a skilled
Maryland personal injury attorney who can help determine the best course of action in your particular situation.
Law Office of Robert R. Castro for a free consultation and let us help you get compensation your family deserves.
This article has been provided by Law office of Robert Castro. For more
information or questions contact our office to speak to an experienced
lawyer at (301) 870-1200.