PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Harassing people on the Internet could soon become a crime carrying prison time in Rhode Island.

The General Assembly approved a bill Saturday making it a misdemeanor to use a computer to knowingly harass another person. To be prosecuted, an offender must inflict severe emotional distress or put the victim in fear of bodily harm.

A first offense would be punishable by a maximum $500 fine and a year in prison. Additional convictions could result in a maximum $6,000 fine and a two-year prison term.

The bill was approved by the House and Senate. It now goes to Gov. Don Carcieri’s desk.

The proposal was among dozens adopted Saturday, the last day lawmakers are voting on bills before leaving for the year.


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