Howard County Sex Crimes Attorney
Sex offense laws in Maryland are numerous, complex, and often difficult to understand. Even if you do understand the allegations, it’s not hard to understand that you need an experienced attorney to get yourself out of the predicament, because sometimes sex charges are a smokescreen for something else having nothing to do with the apparent allegations. A Howard County sex crimes lawyer can help you understand your options. We also examine other criminal charges in Howard County here.
Howard County Sex Crime Lawyers Handle These Cases
Here are the most commonly charged Maryland sex offenses:
- Rape –Divided into two categories: first- and second-degree rape.
- Sexual assault – There are four categories; three are considered felonies, while the fourth is a misdemeanor.
- Molestation – Anyone can be sexually molested, but this offense commonly involves women and children as victims.
- Solicitation – Though commonly a misdemeanor, this can often be a “bridge charge” until investigators decide whether more serious sex-related charges can be filed.
- Child pornography – With stronger Internet distribution laws, child pornography is now much more aggressively pursued by law enforcement.
Rape and Sexual Assault Penalties
First-Degree Rape – This is engaging in vaginal intercourse with another by force or threat of force, without consent. Generally, first-degree rape is punishable by up to life in prison, though it depends on the specifics of the case and whether the offender has previous convictions. If a weapon is used, or the victim is threatened with death, life without parole is not uncommon. thief the perpetrator is over 18, and the victim is under 13, the mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years. Some adults who rape underage victims have gotten life in prison without parole.
Second-Degree Rape – The main differences between this and first-degree rape is that there is injury – or the threat of injury – to the victim, and the absence of a weapon. Punishment is generally 20 years in prison. Perpetrators over 18 whose victims are under 15 face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.
First-Degree Sexual Assault – This crime involves a “sexual act” other than vaginal intercourse. Those who perpetrate this crime on another do it by force, threat of force, and with a weapon. It is punishable by up to life in prison. If the victim is a child under 16, life without parole is possible. If the child is under 13, and the defendant is over 18, sentences range from a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life without parole.
Second-Degree Sexual Assault – Most who are charged with this crime are accused of this offense by act of force or threat of force against a mentally handicapped person or if the victim is under 14, and the offender is at least four years older. If the victim is under the 13, the mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years. Otherwise, the penalty is up to 20 years in prison.
Third-Degree Sexual Assault – This crime is defined as engaging in any form of sexual contact short of rape without the victim’s consent, when the offender uses any dangerous weapon. It also includes sexual contact with mentally defective victims and those under 14 when the offender is over 18. The penalty is up to 10 years in prison.
Fourth-Degree Sexual Assault – This is generally classified as a misdemeanor. It involves non-felonious sex offenses where the aggressor is in a position of power in the workplace, or in a school or where the offender is at least four years older than the victim who is 14 or 15. Depending on the specifics of the case, the penalty is up to three years in prison.
All of these criminal offenses have exceptions and situations where the penalty can be increased, depending on the defendant’s criminal history or the facts of the case. A Howard County sex crimes lawyer can explain how the facts of your case may be used as mitigating or aggravating factors.
Other Less-Common Sexual Offenses Can Be Folded into More Traditional Charges
Other sex crimes include attempted rape, attempted sexual offense, sexual solicitation, solicitation of a minor, child pornography, sexual stalking, prostitution, and Internet-based sex crimes (and Internet sexual stalking and sexting). These crimes can be prosecuted as misdemeanors if the evidence does not strongly support a felonious sex crime.
Some of the above crimes, especially prostitution – if human trafficking occurs across state lines – and Internet-related sex crimes, are vigorously pursued in the federal courts, especially if they can be folded into interstate or RICO (federal racketeering) charges.
How A Howard County Sex Crimes Lawyer Can Help
We know that a conviction for a sex offense can alter your family life and make it difficult to find employment, housing, and other privileges of our society. This is why Howard County sex crime lawyers work hard to protect your rights at all stages of the legal process, from investigation through trial.
So, once you suspect you’re under investigation for a sex offense, or have been charged with one, the sooner we are involved in your case, the better we can build your effective defense. Our experienced team is standing by to receive your call.