Penalties for Sex Crimes in Maryland
The penalties associated with a sex offense conviction vary from one year in jail for a minor fourth degree sex offense all the way up to life in prison for aggravated rape-type cases. Depending on what kind of case we are dealing with, the penalties can be either very minor or very serious. In terms of sex offense cases, we are not always only worried about jail time. In Maryland, there are mandates in terms of the sex offender registry for all sex offense cases, including a misdemeanor sex offense, which can range from 15 years to life on the registry. This is something that sex offenders find inconvenient and embarrassing, but Maryland does take sex offense cases very seriously. The government wants to make sure that if an individual is out in the community, that the people they interact with, work with, or supervise, for example, know that this individual is a convicted sex offender so that they can take whatever precautions they need to in order to protect themselves and their families.
Sex Offender Registry
Everybody’s employment is based on their individual employer, so a kindergarten teacher with a sex offense conviction would feel the impact far more than a truck driver, for example. The employment impact would be far more severe for that kindergarten teacher who has interaction with young children all the time. In terms of the way the registry works, there is an agency in every county, usually through the division of parole and probation, that requires an individual to report regularly. They have to maintain an address on file in the county where they are being supervised and they are subject to home visitation on a random basis from agents in that county. This monitoring takes place to make sure that an individual is compliant with any orders the court has given, which could include not having contact with people of a certain age or people of a certain sex, and not participating in a certain holiday. For example, sex offenders cannot have their lights on for Halloween and give out candy to trick-or-treaters. People see an impact on their lives on a day-to-day basis.
It is public information. In Maryland, there is an online database where somebody can type in their zip code and find out if there are sex offenders in their community and, if so, who they are. Maryland is very cautious and updates their system on a regular basis. An individual who moves and changes their address without approval or notifying the state before doing so is subject to additional criminal charges and can face jail time.
What are the first questions that you ask somebody who is charged with a sex offense?
Answer: When it comes to sex offense cases, I don’t like to ask my client too many questions initially. It is far more important to find out what evidence the prosecution has and what information they are trying to use in a criminal proceeding. That is an important distinction from other cases because in sex offense cases, often what a victim tells the prosecution sets the tone for the defense and exactly how we decide to tackle the case. Only after that would I ask my client specifically tailored questions in order to properly represent them in a courtroom.
Why is it important to hire an attorney early in the process of a sex offense case?
Answer: In sex offense cases there are issues with preservation of evidence that might not exist in other cases. For example, in sex offense cases, there might be DNA, rape kits, or hospital records that we wouldn’t necessarily see in other situations. Getting those records, having them subpoenaed, getting them properly certified so that they are admissible in court, and hiring our own expert to refute those records is extremely important and also time consuming. Requesting that information from prosecutors, hospitals, or police agencies as soon as possible is something that we do immediately so that we can give our clients the most adequate representation.