Third Degree Sex Offense
While there is no specific law in Maryland called statutory rape, the third-degree sex offense statute covers age related crimes where the victim is 15 or younger. Under Maryland law an adult who is 21 or older is prohibited from engaging in a sexual act or vaginal intercourse with anyone under the age of 16. Third degree sex offense applies when the victim was 14 or 15 at the time of the incident. More serious charges apply in cases where an alleged sexual act was performed by a defendant 21 or older with minor under the age of 14. If only sexual contact was alleged the victim would have needed to be under 14 and the defendant would have needed to be at least 4 years older than the victim for felony third degree charges to apply. Otherwise, cases involving sexual contact are typically charged as misdemeanor 4th degree sex offense, though the State could elect to apply the sex abuse of a minor statute. Another exception is when a weapon or force is used during nonconsensual sexual contact or when a victim is alleged to have been injured or strangled during sexual contact.
Third degree sex offense can also be charged if a defendant is alleged to have engaged in sexual contact with a physically helpless or mentally incapacitated individual. The statute includes an act committed on a victim that was “substantially cognitively impaired”, which is a dangerously broad term. This language is designed to protect those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and thus unable to consent to the act, but the term “substantially” leaves too much up for interpretation. If you are being investigated for a case where a person is alleged to have been substantially impaired a sex offense lawyer can step in to argue for the State to end the investigation and close the case before charges are filed. Detectives will often err on the side of charging, especially when the alleged victim and his or her family is attempting to exert influence on the decision of law enforcement. Do not risk the prospect of letting the police or the State make the wrong decision when your freedom could potentially be at stake. Being arrested and charged with a sex offense can have lasting consequences even if the charges are ultimately dropped or you prevail at trial. Benjamin has successfully lobbied for detectives to not pursue numerous sex offense cases in Maryland and is standing by to assist in your case. If you have been charged Benjamin is prepared to fight for your rights all the way to trial, as he has won numerous court and jury sex offense cases. Call anytime to find out what defenses may be available and start protecting your rights.