When the General Assembly passes new legislation, the law will go into effect on either July 1 or October 1 of that year unless otherwise specified. So just this week, a rash of new laws went into effect. It is important to be familiar with new laws for as they say, “ignorance of the law is no excuse!”
Bills dealing with online crimes have been especially prevalent over the last few years. The increasing use of sophisticated technology has unfortunately led to abuses as cyberbullying and cyber-defamation. On October 1, a law went into effect responding to cases of ‘sextortion’ and ‘revenge porn.’ Sextortion refers to the use of extortion to acquire sexual favors. Because of the extortion law’s reliance on something of monetary value, there was a hole in the law for this insidious act. An example would be the demanding of sex under threat that if it were withheld, the individual would be outed for immigration status or prior hidden acts. Revenge porn is the release of private material of a sexual nature designed to hurt the individual and without that person’s permission. Both of these crimes are increasing with the greater use of technology and the General Assembly acted to curb them.
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Another law which went into effect is the ‘Red Flag Law’ or the ‘Extreme Risk Protective Order.’ Maryland joined a small handful of states across the country in passing legislation designed to stop dangerous individuals from owning firearms. The mechanism in the law is similar to that of a protective order, but necessitates an individual coming forward with information that an individual is a danger to themselves or others, and that this individual has a firearm. Under those circumstances, guns can be removed from the home of the individual and there is a mechanism for obtaining a mental health evaluation and services.
Other new laws taking effect October 1 include a law banning ‘gay conversion therapy,’ a ban on bump stocks, an expansion of Maryland’s Move Over law on our roads, expansion of victim rights in college disciplinary hearings, a prohibition against sexual activity with a person in custody, and easier obtaining of permanent protective orders.