Sexual Offense First Degree

Under Maryland law, all sex crimes committed upon another person that are not classified as rape are classified as sexual offenses.  There are four degrees of sexual offenses, and the specific crime charged depends on a variety of factual circumstances.  There is a huge difference between being charged with a first degree offense and a fourth degree offense with respect to the maximum jail sentences, and the recommended sentences under the state guidelines.  If you have been charged or are being investigated for a sex crime it is imperative to retain counsel immediately.  Police detectives use a host of methods to continue to produce evidence in sex cases including controlled phone calls and lengthy interrogations.  An experienced criminal defense lawyer can begin working on your case immediately to assure that police are not able to build a stronger case against you.  If you believe that you are about to be accused of a sex crime do not speak to anyone about the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged incident without contacting a lawyer.  Even if you are completely innocent you could say or do something that may inadvertently jeopardize your freedom.

A first degree sexual offense is defined under state law as an unlawful activity other than vaginal intercourse, which is carried out against the will and without the consent of the victim, and which is accompanied by force or the threat of force.  There must be an aggravating factor present in order to prove a first degree offense.  If there is force without an aggravating factor then there will only be enough evidence to prove a second degree sexual offense.  Aggravating factors may include employing or displaying a dangerous weapon, or something that the alleged victim believes is a weapon during the commission of the act.  Other aggravating factors may be present when the defendant is accused of inflicting serious bodily injury, strangulation, or suffocation upon the alleged victim during the act, or reasonably threatening that serious injury is about to occur.  Finally, it is an aggravated factor if the defendant used the help of another person in order to carry out the illegal act.  Because force is an essential element of a first degree sexual offense, the state must prove that the alleged victim resisted in some manner, and was overcome by force, or prevented from resisting by a threat of harm.  The law does not specify how strongly the victim must resist nor does the law require that force be accompanied by violence.

It is a complete defense to this crime if the alleged victim consents to the act, even if consent is reluctantly given.  Consent is defined as a voluntary agreement by a person of sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent choice to do something proposed by another.  Consent and assent are not the same thing under Maryland law, which means that a positive action must accompany the consent.  In other words, submission is not consent.  Benjamin Herbst is an experienced sexual offense lawyer that is prepared to handle your case with skill and confidence.  The stakes are extremely high in these particular cases, making choosing the right lawyer all the more important.  Contact our office anytime for a free consultation about your case, and the defenses that may be available to you.
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