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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 8, 2020 11:46 AM
From: Representative Kristine C. Howard
To: All House members
Subject: Co-Sponsorship: Restraining Orders and Social Media Communication
Imagine your underage daughter is being harassed and stalked by an older man, both in-person and on-line.  Now imagine that, after finding the courage to file a restraining order against the harasser, the individual is still able to subtly stalk your daughter due to a loophole in the law. This was the case for a constituent of mine and his daughter. After filing, and receiving, a restraining order against the man, this young lady continued to receive “follow” requests from him via social media. Believing this type of communication to be a violation of their restraining order, the father in this scenario was told, by the District Attorney, that nothing could be done since it was not a technical violation of the order. 
The laws that we create should allow our citizens to feel safe and secure, and should not leave room for loopholes due to misinterpretation of technical language. For these reasons, I plan on introducing legislation that would clearly outline prohibited actions as they pertain to restraining orders, so that there can be no further doubt on what constitutes harassment in this digital age. 
My bill would amend Titles 23 (Domestic Relations) and Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) by clearly outlining the types of communication that are prohibited after a restraining order is put in place, including: attempts to contact in person, by phone, e-mail or social media, including following or requests to follow public web pages, or knowingly attending events where the victim will be in attendance.
As stewards of public safety, it is my hope that you will join me in this collective effort to protect the safety and security of Pennsylvanians. Your consideration is greatly appreciated. 
If you have any questions, please contact my Malvern Constituent Services Office at (610) 251-1070.

Introduced as HB479