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What is the Penalty of Sexual offense in the Third Degree?

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2024 | sex crimes |

Sexual offense in the third degree is a felony sexual offense charge codified under Md.Code, Crim. Law § 3-307. Sexual offense in the third degree criminalizes five types of actions. 

First, sexual offense in the third degree criminalizes engaging in sexual contact with another without the consent of the other; and 

  1. employ[ing] or display[displaying] a dangerous weapon, or a physical object that the victim reasonably believes is a dangerous weapon;
  2. suffocate[ing], strangle[ing], disfigure, or inflict[ing] serious physical injury on the victim or another in the course of committing the crime;
  3. threaten[ing], or place[ing] the victim in fear, that the victim, or an individual known to the victim, imminently will be subject to death, suffocation, strangulation, disfigurement, serious physical injury, or kidnapping; or
  4. commit[ing] the crime while aided and abetted by another;

Sexual Contact has a specific meaning defined in Md.Code, Crim. Law § 3-301(3). It means the intentional touching of the victim’s or actor’s genital, anal, or other intimate area for sexual arousal or gratification or for the abuse of either party. Any unwanted, intentional, sexual contact while one of the four factors is present elevates the offense to sexual offense in the third degree.

The second way that sexual offense in the third degree can be charged is if there is sexual contact with another, if the victim is a substantially cognitively impaired individual, a mentally incapacitated individual, or a physically helpless individual, and the person performing the act knows or reasonably should know the victim is a substantially cognitively impaired individual, a mentally incapacitated individual, or a physically helpless individual. 

A substantially cognitively impaired individual is defined under Md.Code, Crim. Law § 3-301(f) as:

an individual who suffers from an intellectual disability or a mental disorder, either of which temporarily or permanently renders the individual substantially incapable of:

(1) appraising the nature of the individual’s conduct;

(2) resisting vaginal intercourse, a sexual act, or sexual contact; or

(3) communicating unwillingness to submit to vaginal intercourse, a sexual act, or sexual contact.

A mentally incapacitated individual is defined under Md.Code, Crim. Law § 3-301(b) as an:

individual who, because of the influence of a drug, narcotic, or intoxicating substance, or because of an act committed on the individual without the individual’s consent or awareness, is rendered substantially incapable of:

(1) appraising the nature of the individual’s conduct; or

(2) resisting vaginal intercourse, a sexual act, or sexual contact.

A physically helpless individual is defined under Md.Code, Crim. Law § 3-301(c) as an:

individual who:

(1) is unconscious; or

(2)

(i) does not consent to vaginal intercourse, a sexual act, or sexual contact; and

(ii) is physically unable to resist, or communicate unwillingness to submit to, vaginal intercourse, a sexual act, or sexual contact.

The  third way to be charged with sexual offense in the third degree is to engage in sexual contact with another if the victim is under the age of 14 years, and the person performing the sexual contact is at least 4 years older than the victim. The state does not need to prove that you knew the victim was under the age of fourteen. They only have to prove that the victim was under the age of 14 and you are at least 4 years older.

The fourth action is to engage in a sexual act with another if the victim is 14 or 15 years old, and the person performing the sexual act is at least 21 years old. Sexual act is another term that has a specific meaning under Md.Code, Crim. Law § 3-301(d). It means any of the following acts: analingus, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercours, including penetration however slight of the anus, or an act in which an object or part of an individual’s body penetrates, however, slightly, into another individual’s genital opening or anus that can reasonably be construed to be for sexual arousal, gratification, or for the abuse of either party.

The fifth and final way to be charged with sexual offense in the third degree is to engage in vaginal intercourse with another if the victim is 14 or 15 years old, and the person performing the act is at least 21 years old. Vaginal intercourse is defined as the penetration, however slight, of the vagina, and genital copulation, regardless of if semen is emitted.

What is the penalty of sexual offense in the third degree?

Sexual offense in the third degree is a very serious offense that carries with it steep penalties. First, it is considered a felony. Second, a conviction under sexual offense in the third degree can result in up to ten years imprisonment. If you are being charged with sexual offense in the third degree it is extremely important to retain counsel as soon as possible. At Maronick Law our attorneys are experienced in vigorously defending clients charged with serious offenses, including sexual offense in the third degree. We have the experience, training, and knowledge to provide the best representation possible and are willing to work as hard as possible to defend and represent you. 

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