October 1, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
STALKING LAW TAKES EFFECT TODAY
OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., co-chair of the Family Violence Council,
announced today that Maryland's new stalking law goes into effect
today, strengthening the state's original stalking law passed in
1993. Passed during the 2003 legislative session and signed into
law on May 13, the new statute makes it easier to prosecute offenders
because it changes stalking from a specific intent crime to a general
intent crime, and it broadens the conduct to include serious bodily
injury, assault in any degree, rape or sexual offense or attempted
rape or sexual offense; false imprisonment, and death or that a
third person will suffer any of these acts.
"All of the efforts of law enforcement to rid the streets of
stalkers and to help victims feel safe are worthless if prosecutors
do not have the tools to do their job," Attorney General Curran
said. "Today that will change."
The law specifically excludes conduct performed to ensure compliance
with a court order, performed to carry out a specific lawful commercial
purpose and conduct authorized, required, or protected by local,
state or federal law.
applaud the Maryland State's Attorneys Association, and many advocacy
groups and law enforcement agencies who worked diligently to ensure
that this important legislation was passed into law," Curran
said. "Thanks to their efforts and the leadership of the General
Assembly, victims of stalking now have greater protections in Maryland."
addition to the implementation of HB 593, October 1 marks the start
of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence service
providers around the state will host programs that raise awareness
about domestic violence. Domestic Violence effects millions of women
and children each year.
July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002 the Maryland Network Against Domestic
Violence reports that 58 Marylanders-women, men and children- were
killed as a result of domestic violence. The National Stalking Resource
Center reports that stalking cases arising out of domestic violence
situations are the most common and potentially lethal class of stalking
cases. Domestic violence victims who leave an abusive relationship
run a 75 percent higher risk of being murdered by their partners.