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Maryland Sex Crime Laws

In Maryland, sex crimes are taken very seriously. They are accompanied by heavy penalties, in some cases life terms in prison, and require lifetime registration with the Sex Offender Registry. Below is a brief outline of some of the Maryland laws surrounding different sex crimes. This information is not, however, a substitute for the accurate and professional advice of a Maryland sex offense lawyer. If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime, contact a Maryland sex crime lawyer now or read here to learn more about how a lawyer can help.

Definitions: Section 3-301

“Sexual act” is a term which is defined as including any of the following acts, regardless of whether the act is finished or semen is emitted:

  • Anilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse (or any penetration of the anus), cunnilingus
  • Any act where an object, whether animate or inanimate, penetrates another person’s genital opening or anus– where the purpose of the act can reasonably be determined to be the sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse of any part
  • This does not include vaginal intercourse or any bona fide medical procedure which requires the penetration of a person’s vagina or anus. Section 3-301(e).

“Sexual contact” is defined as any (1) intentional (2) touching of the victim’s or actor’s genital, anal, or other intimate area (e.g., breasts, buttocks) (3) for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse of either party. Section 3-301(f)(1). This includes any act where a part of one person’s body (excluding the penis, mouth, or tongue) penetrates another person’s genital opening or anus in such a manner that reasonably indicates the purpose as sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. Section 3-301(f)(2). This does not include common expressions of friendly or familial expression nor any bona fide medical procedure. Section 3-301(f)(3).

“Physically helpless” is a term describing a condition where an individual is (1) unconscious or (2) does not consent to the sexual activity in question but is physically unable to resist or physically unable to communicate unwillingness to take part in the activity. Section 3-301(d).

“Mentally incapacitated” is a term that describes a condition where an individual is incapable of understanding and/or resisting the sexual activity as a result of a drug, narcotic, alcohol, other intoxicating substance, or an act committed on the individual without the individual’s consent or awareness. Section 3-301(c).

“Mentally defective” is a term that describes an individual’s condition where the individual suffers from mental retardation or any mental disorder that temporarily or permanently renders the individual unable to understand the nature of the sexual activity, unable to resist the activity, and/or unable to communicate unwillingness to take part in the sexual activity. Section 3-301(b).

Prior Convictions Section 3-313

Unless otherwise noted, prior convictions lead to harsher penalties if a person meets two requirements. First, pursuant to Section 3-313(a) the person must have a prior conviction from a separate incident of one of the following:

  • Rape in the first degree– Section 3-303
  • Rape in the second degree– Section 3-304
  • Sexual offense in the first degree– Section 3-305
  • Sexual offense in the second degree– Section 3-306

Second, pursuant to Section 3-313(a), the person must be guilty of a subsequent sexual crime that is one of the following:

  • Rape in the second degree– Section 3-304
  • Sexual offense in the second degree– Section 3-306
  • Sexual offense in the third degree– Section 3-307
  • Attempting to commit rape in the second degree– Section 3-310
  • Attempting to commit a sexual offense in the second degree– Section 3-312

If these two conditions are met, then that person, upon conviction of one the crimes on the second list above, faces enhanced penalties of up to life in prison. Section 3-313(a).

Sexual Conduct between Correctional Employee and Inmate or Confined Child Section 3-314

A “correctional employee” is defined as a correctional officer, or a managing official or deputy managing official of a correctional facility. Section 3-314(a)(2)(i). This includes any sheriff, warden, or other official whose duty it is to supervise a correctional facility. Section 3-314(a)(2)(ii).

This section also applies to any other employee of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services or a correctional facility, an employee of a contractor providing goods or services to a correctional facility, or any other person who works or volunteers at a correctional facility. Section 3-314(b)(1).

It is illegal for any correctional employee or other person as described above to take part in sexual acts, sexual contact, or vaginal intercourse with an inmate. Section 3-314(b)(2).

Furthermore, it is also illegal for any employee of the Department of Juvenile Services to engage in sexual acts, sexual contact, or vaginal intercourse with an individual who is a minor confined in a detention center for juveniles, a facility for juveniles, or a child care institution licensed by the Department of Juvenile services. Section 3-314(c).

If any person violates this section, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of $3,000 or less. Section 3-314(d).

Keep in mind that this crime includes consensual sexual activity, but in cases where it does not, the guilty party can be charged, convicted, and sentenced for this crime in addition to any other applicable sexual crime.

Continuing Course of Conduct with Child Section 3-315

Under Section 3-315(a) it is illegal for any person (1) to be involved in a continuing series of acts (2) over a period of 90 days or more (3) with a victim who was under 14 years of age at any point during the course of conduct (4) when the series of acts include at least three acts that qualify as:

  • Rape in the first or second degree
  • A sexual offense in the first or second degree

If a person violates this section, then that person faces a felony conviction with up to 30 years in prison. Section 3-315(b)(1).

Unnatural or Perverted Sexual Practice Section 3-322

It is illegal for any person to commit sexual acts involving an animal. Section 3-322(a).

If a person violates this section, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Section 3-222(b).

Incest Section 3-323

It is illegal for any person to have vaginal intercourse with any other individual to whom the person may not marry under Section 2-202 of the Family Law Article. Section 3-323(a). This includes the person’s:

  • Grandparents
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandparent’s spouse
  • Spouse’s grandparent
  • Parent’s Sibling (uncle or aunt)
  • Stepparent
  • Spouse’s parent
  • Spouse’s child
  • Child’s spouse
  • Grandchild’s spouse
  • Spouse’s grandchild
  • Niece or nephew

If a person violates this section, that person is guilty of a felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison. Section 3-323(b).

Sexual Solicitation of a Minor Section 3-324

“Solicit” is defined in this section as urging, authorizing, requesting, enticing, persuading, commanding, or advising by any means. Section 3-324(a). This includes in person, through an agent or agency, through any print medium, over the telephone, by mail, over the computer or internet, or any other electronic means. Section 3-324(a).

It is illegal for any person (1) with the intent to commit rape in the second degree, or a sexual offense in the second or third degree, or for prostitution purposes, to (2) knowingly (3) solicit a minor (or a law enforcement officer pretending to be a minor) (4) to engage in any sexual acts, sexual contact, or vaginal intercourse (5) that would be considered a sex crime or be a prostitution-related offense. Section 3-324(b).

If a person violates this section, that person is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. Section 3-324(d).

How a Maryland Sex Crime Lawyer Can Help

There are many negative consequences of a sex crime conviction. First, even just being charged with a sex crime can lead to stigmatization in our society. When convicted, a person is required by law to register with the Sex Offender Registry for life. In addition, the penalties for sex crimes tend to be very severe. If you or a loved one has been charged or is being investigated for a sex crime, contact a Maryland sex crime attorney today.