Certain sexual behavior is illegal in Maryland based on the ages involved, regardless of both parties’ consent. Statutory rape is one of the serious sex crimes with potentially severe consequences that impact your freedom, finances and reputation.
Age of consent
The age of consent is the legal minimum age limit where a person is considered old enough to consent to sexual activity. In Maryland, the age of consent is generally recognized to be 16 years old. Certain sexual behaviors are illegal, based upon the age of the people participating, even if the participants consent to the behavior.
Statutory rape and other offenses
A person violates Maryland’s statutory rape law by having consensual sexual intercourse with a person under 16-years-old. The severity of this offense is based on the age differences between the offender and the victim.
Also, individuals who are 15 or younger are not, under the law, able to consent to sexual activity with an adult. This may also be classified as statutory rape.
The state’s statutory rape law is also violated when a person has consensual intercourse or other act with a person under 14 and the person performing the act is at least four years older than that minor. For example, a 13-year-old may consent to intercourse with a 16-year-old but may not consent to intercourse with a 17-year-old.
Any minor under 14 that consents to sexual contact in a relationship with a person who is four years older may be considered a sexual assault and statutory rape victim. This would be designated as an abusive relationship which must be reported to authorities for investigation by law enforcement. The case may be dropped if law enforcement determines that there are no reasons to prosecute the incident as abuse.
Regardless of the specific sexual act, a person may be charged with a criminal offense if the victim is under 16 or four or more years younger than the accused offender.
The offense and penalties may be more severe if the victim did not consent, has a physical or mental handicap or in other certain cases. Having sex with a minor is classified as rape in the second degree.
Prosecutions for sex crimes in Maryland may be aggressive with severe and life-altering penalties. An attorney can help defend you against charges and protect your rights.