Degrees of Sex Crimes in Ocean City
There are various degrees of sexual offenses. Regardless of how large or small the charge is, a conviction would lead to a permanent criminal record and recurring social stigma, among other negative consequences.
For this reason, it is important to reach out to an Ocean City sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible should you be facing charges. Such an attorney can guide and advise you throughout the often intimidating legal process, working to mitigate the damages and reduce any possible sentence.
Maryland sexual offenses range from the most minimal which is a fourth degree sex offense all the way up to a first degree sex offense.
There are multiple ways to commit a fourth degree sex offense. One way is engaging in sexual contact with another person without their consent. Sexual contact is defined under the statute as a person intentionally touching somebody in an intimate area and doing so for sexual gratification.
In other words, it is not an accidental touching. These are the main elements of the fourth degree sex offense, and they carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
It is important to note that the age of the parties in question affects the severity of the charge. For instance, a fourth degree sex offense can be committed if a defendant were to engage in vaginal intercourse with, hypothetically, a female who is 14 or 15-years-old and the defendant is at least four years older.
It does not matter if there was consent because, in the eyes of the law, anyone of that age is automatically determined to not be capable of consenting.
A third degree sex offense is a little bit more serious. The maximum penalty for a third degree sex offense is 10 years and from a fourth degree sex offense to a third degree sex offense, the crime jumps from being a misdemeanor to a felony.
A person can commit a third degree sex offense if there is an age-based component, and the number of years between the parties’ ages will be a factor that is taken into consideration and can affect the outcome. If there is a much larger age gap than that seen in the fourth degree sex offense, it is considered to be a more serious offense.
Another way that a third degree sex offense can be committed is if a person engages in sexual contact with another person without their consent and there is an additional aggravating factor. Such aggravating factors can include the following:
- Displaying a weapon
- Inflicting some sort of physical injury while committing the crime
- Engaging in sexual contact when the other party is not capable of giving consent
For second degree sex offenses, the behavior is more egregious, and carries a greater penalty. At this level, a defendant is now facing the possibility of 15 years’ incarceration. When it comes to a second degree sex offense, it is also possible–unlike with less severe iterations of the crime– that a person could receive a sentence which is a mandatory minimum, and which can under no circumstances be suspended.
In order for a person to be facing those consequences, there would also have to be an age-based element to the events under examination. Keeping in mind that a sexual act is very different from sexual contact, a third degree sex offense is engaging in a sexual act with another person without their consent.
In order to achieve a conviction, the state would have to prove that a sexual act took place. A sexual act includes behaviors beyond and in addition to vaginal intercourse, such as fellatio. To sum up, if a person were to engage in a sexual act with a person who is not capable of giving consent, then that would be considered a crime of a second degree sex offense.
If the defendant is 18 years of age or older and they perform a sexual act on a person who is 13-years-old or younger then that would be a situation where the mandatory minimum would apply.
The most serious of the sex offenses is first degree sex offense which is engaging in sexual act with another person by force or threat of force and again it has to have one of those aggravating factors of either displaying a weapon or threatening to suffocate, disfigure, or otherwise harm the other party.
That is considered to be a first degree sex offense and again the sentence increases to 25 years for that charge and there’s a mandatory minimum associated with that depending on the age of the defendant as a victim.
How An Attorney Can Help
Sex offenses are those types of offenses that pretty much include everything but first and second degree rape. It’s usually something short of vaginal intercourse but includes some sort of aggravating factor and sex offenses that are age based. Because these are serious allegations and carry with them the potential for significant penalties, an attorney will be an invaluable asset as you face the charges filed against you.