Accused of Rape or Sexual Assault? Here’s the Evidence Required for a Conviction

Being accused of a crime is scary. Even if you know you didn’t commit the crime in question, the justice system will still take the accusation seriously and pursue an investigation—which may lead to some time in court. Rape and sexual assault are among the worst crimes you could be accused of; not only are their penalties high, but they’re crimes detested by the rest of society. Read on to learn more about: 

  • An Overview of Maryland Sex Assault Charges and Possible Penalties You May Face; 
  • The Proof Needed in Rape or Sexual Assault Cases; and 
  • Life After Accusation or Conviction: Knowing Your Rights and Liberties. 

Sex Offense Charges and Their Penalties 

Crimes tend to vary in severity when under a given category. For example, a person charged with theft equal to $100-$500 will likely see different charges than someone convicted of theft equal to $5,000 and over. By and large, someone with a lesser theft charge may not see as many negative impacts on their future as opposed to someone with felony theft on their record. 

When it comes to crimes under the category of ‘sex offense,’ there is no better outcome for your future other than being fully acquitted. Even though you may face lesser jail time if convicted of a fourth-degree sexual offense than someone convicted of first, all sex crime charges carry legal, societal, and personal weight. 

 

On their own, it is important to know what penalties you may face if accused and convicted. The following chart lays out the most prevalent sex offense charges, their classifications, and their associated penalties:

Sex Offense

Classification

Potential Penalties

Rape in the First Degree

(Felony Charge)

  • Engaging in sexual intercourse or a sexual act with a victim through force, threat of force, and/or without their consent.
  • Additionally, a perpetrator must have 1) used a believed-to-be-dangerous weapon or 2) somehow inflicted serious injury on the victim.
  •  Penalties increase in the event the rape occurred during another crime, such as burglary or kidnapping.

First degree rape is punishable by up to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

 

If you have a prior conviction of either rape in the first degree, you may face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

 

Additionally, if the victim is under the age of 16, you may face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Rape in the Second Degree

(Felony Charge)

 

  • Engagement in sexual intercourse or a sexual act with a victim who either 1) did not consent through the perpetrator’s use of force, 2) is mentally or physically incapacitated, or 3) is a minor younger than 14 and the perpetrator is at least four years older than them.

Second degree rape penalties carry up to 20 years in prison but a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence without parole in the event the victim was younger than 13.

Third Degree Sex Offense

(Felony Charge)

 

  • Engagement in sexual contact with a victim without their consent.
  • Must include brandishing a weapon, threatening the victim, causing physical harm or damage, or being aided and abetted by another person.

Sex Offenses in the Third Degree carry up to 10 years in prison.

Fourth Degree Sex Offense

(Misdemeanor)

 

  • A less severe classification of above three degrees that may involve any of the acts mentioned.

 

If you have no prior charges, you may face up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.

If you have a prior charge, you may face up to three years in prison and up to $1,000.

Not included in this chart are additional components to a conviction, such as being required to register as a sex offender in the state of Maryland. Of course, your charge may be lesser than others, but the implications of a guilty verdict will echo around the community and your personal life. 


The Required Proof in Rape Cases: How a Prosecutor Will Work Against You 

Law enforcement takes cases of sexual assault and rape very seriously and will investigate the claims made thoroughly to ensure an arrest is within the bounds of the law. However, all that matters is your day in court: how will the prosecutor have to prove your case to ensure your conviction? 

For one, if the prosecution doesn’t have many witnesses, don’t take this as an all-clear. Sex crimes happen in all types of settings, and if the alleged rape is said to take place somewhere private, there’s a chance the prosecution won’t have many people to call. 

 

However, there’s a very good chance the law enforcement official investigating the accusations may testify against you to describe their understanding of the case. Your accuser, the plaintiff, will surely testify themselves too to tell their story. 

With the progression of fact-finding methods, the accusing party may undergo a test to collect biological evidence. In the event you give a DNA sample ahead of the trial, the prosecution may eventually use this against you to match your DNA with that found on your accuser. If you’ve heard of Sexual Assault Evidence Kits (SAEKs), better known as ‘rape kits,’ these are what medical professionals use to gather physical evidence of sexual assault. It is very possible witness testimony will corroborate the medical and biological evidence in the case. 


It is very important to hit back when the prosecution hits you. Hiring an aggressive defense attorney is your last line of defense before getting sent to jail for an indefinite number of years. In addition, they’re also helping shield you from what may come after getting out of jail; the most difficult parts of a conviction sometimes lie outside the prison’s confines. 

 

Post-Prison or Conviction Life as a Sex Offender: Avoid it at All Costs

If you think there’s a pathway to a normal life after prison or making parole, think again. 

With the major sex crimes listed, you’ll almost certainly be placed on the sex offender registry after serving a lengthy prison sentence. This is one of the most limiting punishments a court can hand a person outside of jail time. 

The sex offender registry is public and includes your name, date of birth, address, and physical attributes, along with your picture right next to all of it. This being as public as it is, there’s no telling who will access it: friends, family, potential employers, co-workers, past acquaintances. Things you hold dearest—socializing in public, the ability to go and do as you please—hang in the balance of the registry, and the people in your life are finding you there. 


On top of this, you may have parole obligations to fulfill, such as maintaining steady employment or attending rehabilitation courses. Many find parole life difficult with all the hurdles it places in front of you. If your parole lasts for years on end, coupled with your time on the registry, all of it may start to take a severe emotional toll on you throughout your sentence. 

Avoiding sex offense or rape charges is imperative to maintaining a sense of normalcy in life. If you care about your future, contact our offices for a free initial consultationOur criminal defense lawyers are highly skilled in working with people accused of sex crimes looking for a way out. You deserve the best defense you can get; call our offices today to take the first step! 


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