Maryland Sex Offense Charges

Maryland criminal laws define a number of sex crimes. The offenses differ in degree, elements, and include offenses that prohibit online activity like child pornography. Below is a list of some of the most common sex crimes in Maryland.


Rape in the first degree is defined as engaging in vaginal intercourse with another (someone of legal age or who is underage) by force or threat of force, without consent. If any weapon is used or the victim is threatened with death, life without parole is not an uncommon sentence. If any person attempts to commit rape in the first degree, that person is guilty of a felony. For the offense to be considered rape in the second degree, the perpetrator must commit vaginal intercourse with the victim under any of the following circumstances:

  • Without the consent of the victim through the perpetrator’s use of force or threat of force
  • The victim is a mentally defective person, or mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless at the time of the offense, and the perpetrator knew or reasonably should have known of this incapacitation at the time of the offense.

Attempt to commit rape in the second degree is also a felony. Date rape can either be charged as first or second degree rape, depending on the circumstances of the case. If drugs such as Rohypnol (“roofies”) are used to commit date rape, additional charges (such as drug possession) may also be brought against the perpetrator.

First Degree Sexual Offense

This felony crime is defined as committing a “sexual act” other than vaginal intercourse. Those who allegedly commit this crime against a victim without consent do so by force, threat of force, and with a weapon. An individual who attempts to commit a sexual offense in the first degree can also be charged with a felony.

Second Degree Sexual Offense

Most who are charged with this felony crime are alleged to have committed the offense by some act of force or threat of force against a mentally handicapped or otherwise disabled person. This crime is also charged against individuals who attempt to commit statutory rape of a minor.

Third & Fourth Degree Sexual Offenses

Third degree sexual assault is a felony and 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 disabled victims and certain statutory rape charges. Fourth degree sexual assault is generally a misdemeanor. This includes non-felonious sex offenses where the aggressor is in a position of power such as in the workplace, in a school, or if the accused is at least four years older than an underage victim.

Statutory Rape (and other sex crimes with a minor)

This has several classifications based on the type of conduct and the relative ages of the perpetrator to the victim.

  • Second degree rape is classified as having traditional intercourse with a person under the age of 14 if the perpetrator is at least four years older.
  • It is a second degree sexual offense to engage in a sexual act other than rape if the victim is under age 14 and the perpetrator is at least four years older.
  • If someone who is at least 21 years old engages in a sexual act, not including rape, with someone who is age 14 or 15, it is a third degree sexual offense.

There are other minor-related sex charges, the most common of which include solicitation (or trafficking for sex) of a minor and inappropriate touching. All of these can be initially charged as a lower offense and the indictment could later be amended to statutory rape once the prosecution completes its investigation. A Maryland sex crimes lawyer can explain what defenses may or may not be available in statutory rape cases.

Indecent Exposure

Maryland law defines this crime as exposing one’s genitals or other private parts, such as breasts or buttocks, in a public place where others are present and may witness the act. Certain circumstances can aggravate the charges, such as if underage children view the act. More serious penalties arise when an individual is charged with indecent exposure to a minor.

Sexual Stalking and Harassment

Another area of sexually-related offenses can be prosecuted through Maryland’s Misuse of Telephone Equipment (MTE) and Misuse of Electronic Communications (MEC) laws. A few of these charges that can be interpreted as Internet-related stalking or harassment include:

  • MTE – Making an obscene, indecent, filthy, or lewd comment, proposal, suggestion, or request; or making calls repeatedly or with the intent to annoy, torment, harass, distress, or embarrass the person being called, without a legal purpose.
  • MEC – Making electronic contact that is intended to annoy, alarm, or harass the recipient of the electronic communication after being reasonably warned or requested to stop by the recipient or by another person on behalf of the recipient.

Child Pornography (and Internet porn)

With the popularity of the Internet and the perceived anonymity it offers, most child porn offenses usually have their foundations in the online world. Because of this, Maryland child porn cases are extremely complex. Evidence in an alleged offender’s computer or cell phone cache, browser history, file transfer activity, and cookie files can provide ample backup to a prosecutor’s allegations. Sometimes, you can receive pornographic files via email (or in “harmless” software or spyware you inadvertently download) without even knowing it.

Prostitution & Solicitation

Though many crimes such as pandering, solicitation, and prostitution are misdemeanors in Maryland, they can result in serious consequences for the defendant. The penalties can include jail time, probation, fines, and other harmful consequences that affect the accused’s personal life, employment, and reputation. Most of these arrests arise from Internet and street sting operations. Undercover police regularly represent themselves as prostitutes to lure potential customers into compromising situations and then charge the individual with solicitation or other offenses associated with prostitution. These can include:

  • Street-level prostitution
  • Escort service solicitation and escort prostitution arrests
  • Massage services offered by independent providers or agencies
  • Agencies and businesses accused of offering sexual services by their employees or associates
  • Pandering