In order to gain a conviction in a case of harassment, the state must prove that the defendant followed another in or about a public place, or that the defendant maliciously engaged in a course of conduct that alarmed or seriously annoyed another. Though proving this sort of conduct alone will not be sufficient to sustain a conviction, as the government also must prove intent on the part of the defendant. The defendant must have intended to harass, alarm, or annoy another after receiving a reasonable warning or request to stop. Receiving this request to stop is an essential element, and therefore if the victim did not tell the defendant to stop the conduct, then the case should be dismissed. The government must also prove that the conduct did not have a legal purpose. There are a few exceptions to the harassment law, including peaceable activity that is intended to express a political view or provide information to others. This language does leave something up for interpretation, and could be used as a successful defense in many instances.
The maximum penalty for harassment conviction under Maryland law is 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. Because the penalty does not exceed 90 days, the defendant will not be entitled to a trial by jury. This does somewhat limit what sort of approach a defendant and his or her lawyer may take at trial, and we are prepared to advise you on each of these limitations. In addition to jail time, perhaps the harshest consequence of this crime is having a permanent conviction on your criminal record. We understand how detrimental a permanent conviction can be, and are committed to fighting as hard as possible to avoid this scenario. Contact the firm anytime, and let us begin planning your defense.