“Sexual assault” crimes come with many different names and penalties, covering a wide range of conduct. In many cases, these offenses involve sexual touching or sexual intercourse without consent, but more serious sexual assault charges are crimes of sexual violence or force.
If you were charged with a sex crime in Maryland, the penalties could be incredibly serious. Most of these crimes carry a potential of jail time, high fines, and even registration as a sex offender. For a free legal consultation on your case, contact our Baltimore sexual assault defense lawyer today. Rice, Murtha & Psoras represent people in Baltimore charged with serious sexual assault crimes and work to get charges dropped and dismissed or to work out sentences that keep our clients out of jail. For a free legal consultation, call our lawyers today at (410) 694-7291.
Sexual Assault Crimes in Baltimore, MD
Maryland law has no crime titled “sexual assault.” The definition of “sexual assault” varies from situation to situation, and states that use this term as the name of an official crime often have varying definitions. Instead, Maryland uses different names to refer to different sex crimes: “rape” and “sexual offense.”
The crime of rape in Maryland is either charged as first degree or second degree rape. Either level of crime covers sex acts performed without the victim’s consent, but the type of act and the way that the crime happens are different. Rape in the second degree covers vaginal intercourse under a threat of force without the victim’s consent. Alternatively, if the victim is helpless or unconscious because of drugs, a disability, or other impairments, any vaginal intercourse with them is automatically second degree rape. If the victim is under 14 and the actor is at least 4 years older, it is also second degree rape.
First degree rape covers vaginal intercourse, as well as other sex acts, committed by use of force without the victim’s consent. However, for the crime to be charged as first degree rape, there must be use of a weapon, strangulation, death threats, help from another assailant, or commission of the crime during a burglary. This is a far more serious offense because it involves additional levels of violence and force.
The name might seem awkward, but the crime of “sexual offense” is quite serious. A sex offense can be charged in the third or fourth degree in Maryland (the laws governing first and second degree sex crimes were repealed in 2017). Third degree sexual offense covers 4 different crimes:
- Any sexual touching committed without consent by use of a weapon, suffocation, death threats, or help from another person
- Any sexual contact with someone who is unconscious or incapacitated
- Any sexual contact with someone under 14 if the actor is at least 4 years older
- Sex (vaginal or any other “sexual act”) with a 14- or 15-year-old individual if the actor is at least 21 years old
This essentially covers anything short of intercourse committed by use of force or violence, anything short of intercourse committed against an unconscious victim, and “statutory” rape committed by someone over 21.
Fourth degree sexual offense covers, in part, “statutory rape” by someone under 21. This makes it illegal to have sex (vaginal or otherwise) with someone who is 14 or 15 years old if the victim is 4 or more years older. This age threshold for the actor is lower than the 21-year-old threshold for third degree sexual offense. It also covers any sexual contact short of rape that is done without consent.
In additional, a sexual offense in the fourth degree makes it illegal to have sex with a minor under 18 who is a student at your school. Teachers and staff over 21 cannot have sexual contact with students, even if the student is 16 or 17 (over the age of consent in MD) and the sexual activity is consensual. The teacher’s position of trust and authority over the student is said to make this inherently coercive and inappropriate.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Baltimore
These crimes are among some of the most serious offenses under Maryland law. Rape in the first degree is the most serious offense, but the other offenses can also carry significant penalties that could change your life completely.
Rape in the first degree can result in life in prison. In some cases, this could mean life without the possibility of parole, meaning you cannot seek early release. In some situations, there may be a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison where you are not eligible for parole.
Rape in the second degree is also a serious crime, but penalties are usually limited to 20 years in prison. Under some situations, there may be a mandatory minimum sentence, usually of 15 years. Some factors may also make you ineligible for parole during some periods or might increase the penalties to a maximum of life in prison with a minimum of 15 years without parole.
The crime of sexual offense in the third degree is punished with up to 10 years in prison, and fourth degree sexual offense is punished by up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
Each of these crimes is a felony offense except fourth degree sexual offense, which is a misdemeanor.
In addition to these penalties, you could face registration as a sex offender, you may lose the right to vote or own a gun, and you may be unable to work with children because of your criminal history.
Call Our Baltimore, MD Sexual Offense and Rape Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Rice, Murtha & Psoras ’s Baltimore sexual assault defense attorneys represent people accused of serious sex crimes like sexual assault, rape, statutory rape, and illegal sexual contact. For a free, confidential legal consultation, call our law offices today. Your freedom and your future might be on the line, so do not take these charges lightly. For a free legal consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.