Civil sexual abuse lawsuits offer survivors the opportunity to hold perpetrators and enablers accountable, along with financial compensation for personal and economic setbacks.
If you or a loved one is in this situation, you may be wondering how Maryland’s sexual crime statutes will affect your abuser’s punishment. We’ve summarized the state’s main sexual abuse laws below as a reference point, but be aware that these laws do change somewhat frequently. See this list of sexual crimes in Maryland
for up-to-date statutes. Contact a Maryland criminal defense lawyer for a free, confidential case consultation.
General Maryland Sex Crime Statutes For Sex Offenses
Generally speaking, sexual crimes against adults are handled classified as either “rape” or a “sexual offense” in Maryland.
First Degree Sexual Offense - Rape
In Maryland, a person is guilty of rape in the first degree if that person engages in sexual intercourse with another by force or the threat of force, without the consent of the other person, and any of the following circumstances apply:
- The offender uses or displays a dangerous weapon or object which could be used as a dangerous weapon
- The offender suffocates, strangles, disfigures, or inflicts serious physical injury on the victim or another person during the crime
- The offender threatens the victim or makes them fear that the victim or someone they know will suffer serious injury, death, disfigurement, or kidnapping
- The crime is committed with the aid of at least one other person
- The crime is committed in connection with a burglary
First-degree rape is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison. Attempted rape in the first degree is punishable by the same sentence.
Second Degree Sexual Offense - Rape
A person is guilty of rape in the second degree if he or she engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with another person when:
- The sexual intercourse occurs through the use of force, the threat of force, or without consent
- The victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless and the offender is aware of one of these impairments
- The victim is younger than 14 years old and the offender is at least 4 years older than the victim
Second-degree rape is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Attempted rape in the second degree carries the same penalty.
Offenders Charges With Sexual Offense Crimes
A person is guilty of a sexual offense in the first degree if they commit any sexual act other than sexual intercourse under any of the conditions listed under first-degree statutory rape. Sexual offenses in the second degree are sexual acts committed under any of the circumstances listed in second-degree rape.
The Maryland legal system states that those that commit sexual offenses in the first degree are punishable by a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The penalty is the same for attempted sexual offenses in the first degree. Second-degree sexual offenses are punishable by anywhere from 15 years in prison to life imprisonment. Attempted second-degree sexual offenses are punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Maryland Laws Regarding Child Sexual Abuse - Statute of Limitations
Maryland has several statutes which specifically prosecute child sex offenders:
Continuing Course Of Conduct With Child
A person is guilty of continuing course of conduct with a child if that person engages in three or more acts listed under Rape and Sexual Offenses over a period of 90 days or more, with a victim who is younger than 14 years old at any time during the sexual conduct.
This crime is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
In the state of Maryland, it’s a felony for any person to do any of the following sexual assault charges:
- Cause, induce, solicit, or knowingly allow a minor to participate in the production of sexually explicit material
- Photograph or film a minor engaging in sexual activity
- Use a computer to depict or describe a minor engaging in sexual activity
- Knowingly promote, advertise, solicit, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute any material that depicts a minor engaged in sexual activity
- Use a computer to compile, transmit, print, publish, reproduce, buy, sell, receive, exchange, or disseminate any notice, statement, advertisement, or personal information of a child for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child
The first conviction for child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a maximum $25,000 fine. On each subsequent conviction, the sentence is up to 20 years in prison and/or a maximum $50,000 fine. These charges also include the possibility of having to register as a sex offender.
Sexual Solicitation Of Minors
A person is guilty of the felony of sexual solicitation of minors if that person knowingly solicits a minor, or a law enforcement officer posing as a minor, to engage in sexual activity. This crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Sexual Abuse Of A Minor
Throughout Maryland, the crime of sexual abuse of a minor applies to cases where a minor is sexually abused by a family member or other member of their household. If someone is convicted of this offense, he or she faces a felony conviction of up to 25 years in prison.
Sexual Conduct Between Correctional Or Juvenile Justice Employee And Inmate Or Confined Child
Maryland law prohibits correctional employees from engaging in sexual activity with inmates. It’s also illegal for any employee of a detention center or facility for juveniles to engage in sexual activity with an individual confined in one of these facilities.
This crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 3 years in prison and/or up to a $3,000 fine.
Local Resource For Survivors Of Sexual Abuse
- Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA): They provide resources, training, and advocacy to support survivors of sexual assault. Website: www.mcasa.org
- TurnAround, Inc.: This Baltimore-based organization provides counseling, support services, and advocacy for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Website: www.turnaroundinc.org
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN): Though not specific to Maryland, RAINN offers a National Sexual Assault Hotline, which is free, confidential, and available 24/7. Website: www.rainn.org
- Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV): They offer resources for survivors of domestic violence, which can often intersect with sexual abuse. Website: www.mnadv.org
- Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center (SARC): Harford County's lifeline to victims, potential victims, and survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse and stalking. Website: www.sarc-maryland.org
- HopeWorks of Howard County: They provide support and advocacy for people in Howard County affected by sexual and domestic violence. Website: www.wearehopeworks.org
- Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County: Provides services to families experiencing domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault. Website: www.familycrisiscenter.net
- Heartly House, Inc.: Serving Frederick County, they offer comprehensive services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and child abuse. Website: www.heartlyhouse.org
Please remember that it's crucial to contact local law enforcement if you are in immediate danger. Also, consider reaching out to a sexual abuse lawyer in Maryland to understand your rights and legal options.
Maryland Sexual Abuse Attorneys - Free Consultations For Victims Of Sexual Abuse
At Maryland Injury Guys, our dedicated and compassionate sexual abuse lawyers understand the difficulty of dealing with such traumatic experiences. Our team of professionals is committed to pursuing justice on behalf of survivors, providing confidential, empathetic legal counsel every step of the way. Remember, you're not alone, and it's never too late to seek justice and help. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we can support you in your quest for justice and healing. Trust your case to Maryland's sexual abuse legal landscape.