Maryland Sex Crimes Lawyer
Sexual crimes in Maryland are covered by Title 3, Subtitle 3 of the Maryland Criminal Law Code. Upon conviction, the vast majority of sexual crime charges result in a felony record as well as a prison term of up to life. Even in the case of a shorter prison sentence, the reflection of a felony sex crime conviction on your permanent record could make it virtually impossible to find future housing, employment, loans and more.
In order to preserve your quality of life and prove your innocence, it may be best to seek help from a qualified Maryland sex crimes lawyer. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can handle your case professionally and use every possible resource to create a strong defense. En Español.
First Degree Rape
Rape in the first degree is covered by Maryland Criminal Law Code § 3-303. According to this code, it is illegal to engage in vaginal intercourse with another individual by force or intimidation without the other individual’s consent, while doing one or more of the following:
- Displaying or employing a dangerous weapon or another object the victim believes to be a dangerous weapon
- Disfiguring, strangling, suffocating or otherwise inflicting serious physical injury to the victim or another individual in the commission of the crime
- Threatening to kidnap, seriously injure, disfigure, strangle, suffocate or kill the victim
- Committing the crime with the help of another individual
- Committing the crime while also committing first, second or third-degree burglary
The penalty associated with first-degree rape is a felony conviction, as well as an incarceration term of up to life in prison. If the victim is under the age of 16, the penalty is life in prison with no possibility of parole. As a Maryland sex crimes lawyer can explain, the penalty is the same if the victim is under 13 and the offender is over the age of 18.
Second Degree Rape
Rape in the second degree is covered under § 3-304. According to this code, an individual may not engage in vaginal intercourse with another individual:
- Through the use of force, or the threat of force, without the other individual’s consent
- If the alleged victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally defective or physically helpless, and the offender knows this
- If the victim is younger than 14 years of age, and the offender is 4 or more years older than the victim
Most of what is colloquially known as date rape in Maryland falls under the classification of second-degree rape. More specific information on “date rape” in Maryland and date rape lawyers is available here.
The penalties associated with second-degree rape include a felony conviction, as well as a prison term of up to 20 years. If the victim is younger than 13 and the offender is over the age of 18, the penalty involves a prison term of between 15 years and life. 15 years is the mandatory minimum sentence in this case, and it cannot be suspended.
Sexual Offense Crimes
While crimes of rape are those that include vaginal intercourse, sexual offense crimes are those that include other types of sexual acts, including anal intercourse, analingus, cunnilingus, fellatio, sexual penetration with an object, or any act deemed for sexual gratification or sexual arousal, or abuse of either party. Sexual offense encompasses similar acts known as sexual assault in other jurisdictions.
First Degree Sexual Offense
As it is defined in Maryland Criminal Law Code §3-305, sexual offense in the first degree is analogous to first-degree rape, as one of the two requirements for a conviction is that the defendant used force, or the threat of force, to compel someone else into nonconsensual sexual activity. The other element of this offense is that the defendant must have also committed one or more of the following acts:
- Strangled, disfigured, or caused serious physical injury to the non-consenting party
- Made the non-consenting individual fear serious injury, kidnapping, or death due to an intentional threat
- Used or displayed a dangerous weapon during the commission of a sexual offense, or made the non-consenting party believe such a weapon was present
- Committed a sexual offense during an act of burglary
- Committed a sexual offense with help from one or more other individuals
A conviction for a first-degree sexual offense is punishable by a maximum of life in prison, but certain circumstances—such as the commission of the offense against a kidnapped minor child—elevate potential punishments to include life in prison without parole. If someone over 18 is convicted of a first-degree sexual offense against a child under 13, they must serve a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years, no part of which can be suspended.
Second Degree Sexual Offense
According to Maryland Criminal Law Code §3-306, there are three specific circumstances under which a person can be charged with a sexual offense in the second degree, all of which involve the defendant allegedly engaging in nonconsensual sexual activity. These circumstances are as follows:
- The defendant used or threatened force in order to compel someone else into nonconsensual sexual activity
- The victim materially could not consent to sexual activity because they were mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless, and the defendant was aware of that fact
- The victim was under 14 years of age and at least four years younger than the defendant
The maximum sentence available for a second-degree sexual offense conviction in Maryland is 20 years in prison, unless the defendant is at least 18 years and the nonconsenting party was under 13 years old. In this case, a violation involving the use of force or sexual activity with an impaired individual would be punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, up to a maximum of life in prison.
Third Degree Sexual Offense
Crimes of third-degree sexual offense are covered under § 3-307, and largely deal with age. While crimes of non-consented sexual contact can be charged as a third degree sexual offense rather than first or second-degree sexual offense depending on the circumstances of the case, this code is usually invoked for the following circumstances of sex, even if said sex is agreed upon by both parties:
- The victim is younger than 14, and the offender is at least 4 years older than the victim
- The victim is either 14 or 15 years of age, and the offender is 21 years of age or older
These offenses are also commonly referred to as statutory rape, although this is not a term used within the Maryland legal system. For more details on what “statutory rape” is, please visit this link.
The penalty associated with third-degree sexual offense is a felony as well as a prison term not to exceed 10 years.
Fourth Degree Sexual Offense
Sexual offense in the fourth degree is covered by Maryland Criminal Law Code § 3-308. Under this statute, it is a criminal offense for anyone to engage in sexual contact of any kind with another person who does not consent to that individual. This statute also prohibits a person who is four or more years older than a 14 or 15-year-old individual, but less than 21 years of age themselves, from engaging in sexual activity or intercourse with that younger individual.
In addition, the statute states it is illegal for a person in a position of authority to engage in a sexual act with a minor student. A person in a position of authority is defined as a person who is 21 or older, supervises the minor, and is a full-time employee of a private or public preschool, elementary school or secondary school.
The penalty for a sexual offense in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor, as well as a fine of up to $1,000.00 and up to one year in jail. For repeat offenders, the penalty is a fine of up to $1,000.00 and a jail term not to exceed three years.
Attempted Rape or Attempted Sexual Offense
Crimes of attempted rape and attempted sexual offense in the first and second degrees are covered under § 3-309 through § 3-312. According to these codes, it is illegal to attempt to commit first degree or second-degree rape or sexual offense, even if said attempts don’t lead to vaginal intercourse or sexual contact.
The penalty for attempted first-degree rape is a felony, as well as up to life in prison. The penalty for attempted second-degree rape or sexual offense is a felony, as well as up to 20 years in prison. For this reason, the best course of action may be to consult with a Maryland sex crimes lawyer as quickly as possible.
Child Sexual Abuse
Sex crimes against children, particularly those who were in the legal custody or care of the perpetrator, are prosecuted vigorously and punished harshly in the state of Maryland. Visit our Maryland sexual abuse & sexual assault lawyer page for more information.
Federal Sex Crimes
Sex offenses that transpire across state lines, such as sex trafficking in which the victim is transported from one state to another, are prosecuted at the federal level. Visit our sex trafficking lawyer page here to learn more.
Sex crimes committed over the Internet are generally prosecuted at the federal level, as well. This is particularly true of child pornography. More information on child pornography charges and penalties is available here.
Almost all of these charges are felonies. Our federal sex crimes lawyer page provides more information on these crimes.
Sex Offender Registry
A conviction for most sex crimes, whether the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony, requires the guilty party to submit his or her name and other information to register as a sex offender in Maryland. Visit our Maryland Sex Offender Registry FAQ page for more detailed information.
Importance of a Maryland Sex Crimes Lawyer
Sexual offense charges must be taken very seriously, as virtually all of them result in felony convictions as well as lengthy prison sentences. If you’re convicted of a rape or sexual offense, you could face life in prison, potentially without the possibility of parole depending on the circumstances of your case. At the same time, many sexual offense charges are highly subjective, and come down to the word of the plaintiff against the word of the defendant. A reputable, licensed Maryland sex crimes lawyer could examine the details of your case and explain the defense strategies best suited to your situation. Skilled representatives could draw upon every legal resource in order to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.