In 2017, the state of Maryland passed several new laws that will hopefully help the survivors of sexual assault bring those who have caused them harm to justice.
No Means NO
The bill, which was signed into law, was created after the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault released findings after completing an audit of three years of sexual assault cases. What they found was that of 124 cases reviewed, 42 were simply discharged because the plaintiffs were unable to show that they physically resisted the alleged assault.
As many survivors of sexual assault know, the fact that physical resistance didn’t occur doesn’t mean that an assault didn’t take place. In many cases, the victim has been threatened and is afraid that if they resist, their attacker will become even more violent, putting their health and life even more at risk.
The new bill does not require the survivors to prove that they fought back and specifically states that “evidence of physical resistance by a victim is not required to prove that a sexual crime was committed.”
In addition to this, two other bills were also signed into law. The first requires all evidence in a sexual assault case be kept for 20 years. The second ensures that all actions of coerced oral sex or anal sex are now defined as rape.
Another change was made, which allows the victims of child sexual abuse to pursue legal action against the person who assaulted them until the age of 38. Previously, the survivors had to file a complaint by age 25.
Maryland Rape & Sexual Assault Penalties
Rape and sexual assault are the most underreported crimes in the United States for a variety of reasons, but one of those reasons is that the survivors don’t feel confident that their attacker will actually be punished for what they have done. But in Maryland, the penalties for rape and sexual assault are as follows:
Rape is separated into:
When a person commits rape or attempts rape, the maximum sentence is life in prison. If the rape was of a child under 16 or if they had a previous rape conviction, the possibility of parole is no longer an option.
The maximum penalty for second-degree rape or attempted second-degree rape is 20 years in prison unless the victim is a child under 15, then the defendant will automatically serve a minimum of 15 years in prison and may be sentenced to life in prison.
Sexual offenses in Maryland are broken down into four categories and the penalties are as follows:
Just like with rape, those convicted of the attempt of this crime or the crime can be put in prison for life, unless the victim was a child and then the possibility of parole is removed.
A maximum of 20 years is possible unless the victim is a child and then the minimum is 15 years with the maximum being life in prison.
This is a felony crime that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
This is considered a misdemeanor that can place the defendant in prison for up to one year unless they have previously been convicted of a sex crime, then the maximum is a three-year prison sentence.
In addition to bringing criminal charges against the person who assaulted them, the survivors of sexual assault may also be able to file a civil lawsuit which could provide them financial relief.
Recovering From Trauma Is A Lifelong Process
The survivors of rape and sexual assault are typically left with both physical and emotional damage. While nothing will ever be able to take away the memory of what they have suffered through, medical care, therapy, and support groups may be able to provide comfort.
Of course, these options frequently cost money.
By filing a civil lawsuit, the survivors may be able to ensure that they will be able to get the ongoing care that they need thanks to financial compensation. The amount awarded in each case varies but can be invaluable for the plaintiff as they continue to recover.