The classification of sex crimes in Maryland is complicated, using a classification of degrees depending on the seriousness of the crime charged.
Rape is divided into two categories or degrees. The word “rape” is most often used to describe an unwanted sex act. However, modern day laws also use terms such as “sexual offense” and “sexual assault” to describe unwanted sex acts that do not include vaginal intercourse but include unwanted touching.
Other sex offenses are divided into four classes or four degrees of offensive sexual activity. First degree is the most serious, fourth degree is the least serious.
A first-degree sexual offense refers to:
- engaging in a sexual act (oral or anal sex, or any object or part of one’s body penetrates the genitals or anus for sexual gratification, but not vaginal intercourse)
- by force, threat, or without consent
- while displaying a weapon, suffocating or physically injuring the victim, or
- threatening the victim with death, disfigurement, or serious physical injury, or
- committed with another’s help or during a burglary.
The penalty for a conviction of a first-degree sexual offense or an attempt of this crime is life in prison.
A second-degree sexual offense refers to engaging in a sexual act with another:
- by force or without his or her consent,
- with a mentally or physically incapacitated person (includes drunk, high, or unconscious) when the defendant should know of his or her condition, or
- the victim is under 14 and the defendant is at least 4 years older than the victim.
The penalty for a conviction of a second-degree sexual offense is a maximum of 20 years in prison, including for attempt.
A third-degree sex act includes any of the following:
- engaging in sexual contact (intentionally touching the victim’s or defendant’s genital, anal, or other private parts for sexual gratification or abuse of either person) without consent
- while using a weapon, strangling or seriously injuring the victim, threatening the victim with death, serious injury, or kidnapping, or
- committed with another’s help or where the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated (drunk or unconscious for example) and
- the defendant knows of his or her condition or
- where the victim is under 14 years old and the defendant is at least 4 years older.
The penalty for a third-degree sexual offense conviction is a felony with a sentence of not more than 10 years in prison.
A fourth-degree sexual offense includes:
- engaging in sexual contact without the other’s consent or
- engaging in a sexual act or vaginal sex with a 14 or 15-year-old
- when the defendant is at least 4 years older.
Typically, conviction of a fourth-degree sexual offense is a misdemeanor punished by not more than one-year imprisonment and a fine not more than $1,000. However, if a person previously committed a sex crime, the punishment is increased to 3 years in prison and a fine up to $1,000.
Conviction of any of these sex crimes will require registration as a sex offender in Maryland, including Ocean City and Baltimore, for anywhere from 15 years to lifetime, depending on the crime.
If you are charged with a sexual offense in Baltimore or Ocean City, you should talk to a Baltimore/Ocean City criminal defense attorney. A Baltimore/Ocean City sex crimes lawyer can get the charges reduced or work out a plea bargain, among other defense options. The consultation is free. The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Ocean City and surrounding areas, Baltimore city and Baltimore county legal needs. We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free consultation.