The interactive service (social media) bill was in part motivated by the suicide of a 15-year old Howard County girl, who took her own life after being the target of numerous long standing insults and threats on Facebook. The statute specifically prohibits a person from using social media 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. There must be intent on behalf of anyone charged to actually cause the distress or place the minor in reasonable fear of physical harm. This crime is classified as a misdemeanor, and any conviction may result in up to one year in jail and a $500 fine. Many people and groups, including the ACLU, have concerns that the statute is too broad and general, and therefore unconstitutional. It is not required that the defendant actually knows that the victim is suffering distress or is in fear, and there is no way to exactly define “serious emotional distress”. And keep in mind that many of the potential violators of this new law could be minors just like the victims. As the statute now stands, there is simply too much potential for a defendant to be wrongly charged with a crime that could never be proven in court. The state is prohibited from prosecuting a criminal case if there is no reasonable likelihood of a conviction. But police, parents, and school officials are under no such restraints. The Herbst Firm understands the complexities of this law, and we will fight to restore yours or your child’s name if he or she is facing a cyberbullying case. Do not wait until formal charges are filed, or an arrest is made. We can start working on the case immediately, and fight to prevent an arrest or charge from happening in the first place.