What is a sexual offense?
A sexual offense is a form of sexual contact or other sexual activity that is performed without the other party’s consent. The activity may be illegal if it was conducted with someone who was under the age of legal consent (which is age 16 in Maryland). Rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, incest and prostitution are examples of sexual offenses.
Are sexual offenses crimes?
Most sex offenses are considered crimes. The nature of the specific act will be examined before determining whether the person who initiated the activity could be charged with a crime. The victim may need to prove that they did not agree to the activity and that the offender used a weapon, threatened force or actual force to go through with the act.
What is a fourth-degree sex offense?
Sex crimes in the state of Maryland are categorized according to the nature of each violation. There are three classes that they may be placed in. There is second degree, third degree and fourth degree sexual offenses. Fourth degree sex offenses are generally considered to be the least serious.
- A person can be charged with a fourth-degree sex offense if one or more of the following conditions has occurred:
- They were involved in sexual contact with another person without that individual’s consent.
- A person who was under 21 years of age and at least 4 years older than their victim engaged in a sexual act with someone who was 14 or 15 years old at the time of the offense.
- A person who was not yet 21 years old but was also 4 or more years older than their victim participated in vaginal intercourse with an individual who was 14 or 15 when the incident occurred.
- An individual who was at least 21 years of age or older and served as an authority at the school that the victim attended was involved in vaginal intercourse, sexual conduct or another type of sexual act with a person who was under 18 years old at the time.
What are the penalties for fourth-degree sex offenses?
If a person doesn’t have any other sex crime convictions, they may be charged with a misdemeanor for committing a fourth-degree sexual offense. A judge could order an offender to pay a fine of no more than $1,000 and serve up to a year in jail. If the accused does have a previous sex crime conviction, the penalties for this crime can be a $1,000 fine and no more than 3 years in prison. Additional penalties may be added if the accused was found guilty of other sexual offenses.
What can I do if I’m a victim of a fourth-degree sexual offense?
You should contact your local law enforcement office if you’ve been a victim of a fourth-degree sexual offense. The officer who responds may ask for a statement from you. They may also take photographs of any visible bruises or other injuries. You can visit a doctor or hospital as well.
If you decide to press charges, the police and hospital reports could be used as evidence in court proceedings. You can contact anyone who witnessed the act to ask them if they would testify in your behalf. You may represent yourself or hire legal counsel to act in your behalf.
You may want to attend counseling if you notice that your physical and mental health have started to decline. These sessions should be confidential, and you don’t have to share the contents of those sessions with anyone. Remember that what happened to you was wrong and that the incident was not your fault. You don’t need to feel guilty for something that you had no control over.
What actions can I take if I’ve been accused of committing a fourth-degree sexual offense?
You have the right to refute any accusations that were made against you. You can also hire a lawyer who will represent you. You will be known as the defendant in the case. The person who filed the petition against you will be referred to as the plaintiff.
Each side will have the opportunity to present their evidence, witnesses and testimony. The presiding judge will review all information carefully before making a decision. You may be able to appeal the decision if necessary.
Sex crimes usually change people’s lives. Victims may have a tough time letting go of what happened to them. They may distance themselves from their spouses, partners, parents, children, friends, other relatives, classmates and colleagues. A victim could have difficulty concentrating on work and other daily tasks.
A person who was accused or convicted of a fourth-degree sexual offense may also face their own challenges. Even if the individual was found not guilty or has served their time, they may still be viewed as a criminal by people that they were once close to. It can take considerable time and effort to rebuild trust and respect. They may even have issues in finding or maintaining employment or obtaining housing.
If you’ve been a victim or have been accused of committing a fourth-degree sexual offense, contact us today. You can set up a free consultation to discuss your concerns. Our trained professional will listen to your side of the story and provide invaluable insight and recommendations for possible next steps. We can even represent you during court proceedings if you so choose.
Sex offenses can be intimidating. They’re never easy to deal with and people may misjudge you because of them, regardless of your involvement. We want to help you regain your life. However, that will take some time. Even though most fourth-degree sexual offenses are relatively minor, that doesn’t mean that they’re unimportant. You may need to overcome obstacles to regain trust, respect and self-confidence. There will be good days and bad days, just like everyone else goes through. What you get out of anything in life ultimately depends on the effort that you put in. If you’re ready to do the work and persevere, you may find yourself in a far better situation than you’ve ever experienced before.