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"Revenge porn" is now illegal per Maryland extortion laws


With the advent of the Internet came the advent of crimes associated with it. While one may think mainly of white-collar crimes, such as identity theft, when it comes to Internet crimes, there are other ways a person could use the Internet to commit a crime. Extortion is one of these crimes, and Maryland law has recently expanded the scope of what acts could fall under extortion laws.

Hundreds of new laws have recently taken effect in Maryland, including one involving sexual offenses. Under Maryland law, it is now illegal to threaten economic harm or shame someone as a means of forcing that person to perform sexual acts or appear in pornography. Known as "revenge porn" or "sextortion," such acts are now considered to be a misdemeanor crime. The penalties are significant and include a fine of up to $10,000 and as many as 10 years of incarceration.

While this law applies to threats made using the Internet and social media, it also applies to any other activity in which a person is threatened emotionally or economically into performing a sexual act or appear in pornography. The law was passed to close a loophole in existing extortion laws in the state. It used to be the case that extortion laws were not applicable to sexual acts, as such acts technically did not have a monetary value. This new law now changes that.

The penalties associated with "sextortion" or "revenge porn" are significant, and thus it is important that those accused of this crime avoid being wrongfully convicted. Not only could a conviction impose fines and jail time, but simply being accused of a sex crime or extortion could damage a person's personal and professional reputation.

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