Maryland’s statute of limitation laws regarding rape vary depending on the type of assault, the age of the victim and whether it’s a civil or criminal case.
Here is a breakdown of the laws as they stand in 2023:
Felony sex crimes
Maryland has no statute of limitations for felony sexual crimes, regardless of the age of the victim. This includes:
- First-degree and second-degree rape
- First-, second- and third-degree sexual offense
- First- and second-degree attempted rape
- First- and second-degree attempted sexual offense
This action is defined as forcibly compelling someone into having sexual intercourse, along with one or more of the following conditions:
- Display or use of a dangerous weapon
- Threats against the victim or people close to the victim
- Participation of an accomplice
- The victim endures serious physical injury during the encounter
- The encounter includes a burglary
The already severe penalties for this crime are increased if the victim is under the age of consent in Maryland, which is 16, or the perpetrator has previously been convicted of a sex crime.
This charge is used if one is forced into having vaginal intercourse, but one or more of the bullet point circumstances above do not apply.
Second-degree rape also applies when the victim was physically or mentally incapacitated (e.g., by drugs or alcohol) or if the victim is a vulnerable or frail adult. This charge is also used in situations when the victim is under 14 years of age, and the assailant is more than four years older than the victim.
The term “sexual offense,” which, again, is a felony in the first-, second- and third-degree, applies to situations where there was no vaginal intercourse. However, the circumstances that distinguish first-degree and second-degree sexual offense are similar to the conditions, circumstances and ages listed above.
A fourth-degree sexual offense, which is a misdemeanor, has a statute of limitations of one year after the offense takes place or three years if the offender was in a position of authority.
Maryland has Romeo and Juliet laws that limit punishments when both participants are minors or the age difference between the two individuals is three years or less. In all other instances, statutory rape is a felony and therefore there is no statute of limitations.
Maryland is particularly aggressive when prosecuting rape and sexual offense. Penalties for felony offenses range from 10 years in prison with the possibility of parole to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
People charged with felony rape or sexual offense should seek legal assistance immediately.