By Alexandra Hoskins, Esq., Staff Attorney at the Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI)
Fall is in the air, and with the changing of the season comes the formal enactment of many laws that the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault helped to pass during the 2016 legislative session. Here are some highlights:
- Erin’s Law (H.B. 72; Md. Code Ann. Education § 7-439): Erin’s law mandates age-appropriate sexual assault and abuse awareness and prevention work in elementary and secondary schools. By educating young people about healthy relationships, the law will help prevent sexual abuse of children and youth, and college sexual assault. Erin’s law went into effect on July 1, 2016. The Maryland State Department of Education has established a working group to design standards that must be implemented by all schools for the 2017-2018 school year.
- Criminal Law – Stalking (S.B. 278/H.B. 155; Md. Code Ann. Criminal Law § 3-802): This law adds intentional infliction of emotional distress to the definition of stalking used in criminal cases.
- Peace Orders – Stalking & Harassment (S.B. 346/H.B. 314; Md. Code Ann. Courts & Judicial Proceedings §§ 3-1503 & 3-8A-19.1): This law expand access to peace orders by encompassing different types of harassment, including revenge porn and visual surveillance.
- Criminal Law – Extortion – Immigration Status (S.B. 178/H.B. 493; Md. Code Ann. Criminal Law § 3-701): This law makes it illegal to engage in extortion by threatening to reveal immigration status to law enforcement, a tactic commonly used in cases of domestic violence and human sex trafficking.
- Failure to Report Child Abuse (S.B. 310/H.B. 245; Md. Code Ann. Family Law § 5-705.3): If a multidisciplinary team investigating child abuse learns that a professional failed to comply with Maryland’s mandatory reporting law for child abuse and neglect, the team must report that professional to the appropriate licensing board.
- Sexual Exploitation by Court Ordered Service Providers (H.B. 751; Md. Code Ann. Criminal Law § 3-314): This law prohibits sexual relations between counselors and others who provide court-ordered services, and litigants who have been ordered to receive those services.
Thank you to all of the advocates, survivors, and activists who helped push for enactment of these laws. Your work helped improve the State’s response to sexual violence. For more on MCASA Legislative Agenda for 2017, click here.