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First, Second, Third And Fourth Degree Sex Offenses | Sex Offense Attorneys

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False allegations of sex offenses occur for selfish reasons – including divorce and child custody disputes – that don’t consider how far-reaching such accusations can become. The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC will defend you against sex offense charges to ensure that your side of the story is fairly presented to judge and jury.

What Is A Sex Offense In Maryland?

When it comes to sexual assault charges, Maryland differentiates between what it considers to be rape and other forms of sexual assault. These other sexual assault charges are known as “sex offenses.”

As a rule, Maryland law considers rape to be some sort of sexual intercourse that the victim did not or could not consent to.

That definition leaves sex offenses to cover just about any other type of sexual assault that falls short of rape.

The varying degrees of sexual offense that law enforcement can charge against a defendant depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident, known as “aggravating factors.”

What Are The Differences Between Sex Offense Degrees In Maryland?

All Maryland sex offenses are serious criminal charges. If convicted, most defendants would become felons.

However, circumstances surrounding the offense – whether a weapon was used, the victim’s mental state, etc. – define what “degree” of sex crime is charged.

  • First-degree sex offense: This felony crime is defined as committing a “sexual act” other than vaginal intercourse. The victim alleges that the sex act occurred without consent, or with consent obtained by force or the threat of force and with a weapon.
  • Second-degree sex offense: The victim must allege that the defendant committed the offense by some act of force or threat of force and the victim is a mentally handicapped or otherwise disabled individual. Sometimes, this felony crime is also charged against individuals who attempt to commit statutory rape.
  • Third-degree sex offense: This felony crime is charged against someone who allegedly engaged in any type of formal sexual contact (short of rape) without the victim’s consent, plus the offender using any dangerous weapon. This sex offense charge can also apply to alleged sexual contact with a mentally disabled victim and certain statutory rape charges.
  • Fourth-degree sex offense: This misdemeanor charge covers non-felony sex offenses where the perpetrator is the position of power such as a teacher, supervisor, or someone else accused that is at least four years older than the underage victim. Even if the alleged victim told the accuser they consented, the law may find that the accused’s perceived position left the victim unable to give true, legal consent.

What Are Possible Sentences And Punishments For Maryland Sex Offense Convictions?

Even if law enforcement believes a defendant falls short of the legal definition of rape, conviction of a sex offense will have profound impacts on the rest of a defendant’s life, including:

  • Registration on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry for at least 15 years, which will impact your personal and professional life
  • A criminal record, which may disqualify you from a wide variety of jobs – including government work
  • Required sex offender classes and court-supervision
  • Invasive polygraph testing and other obligations, depending on the nature of the charges

Those repercussions scratch the surface of sex offense legal penalties. Jail time is often a part of any sex offense sentencing.

Possible first-degree sex offense prison time:

  • Decades in prison
  • A minimum 25-year mandatory prison sentence without the possibility of parole for adults convicted of assaulting a victim under the age of 13
  • If a repeat offender, up to life in prison without parole

Possible second-degree sex offense prison time: 

  • A maximum 20-year prison sentence
  • If the sexual assault involved an adult against a child under 13, then it’s a minimum 15 years to life

Possible third-degree sex offense prison time:

  • Up to 10 years in prison

Possible fourth-degree sex offense prison time:

  • Up to a year in prison and a fine of $1,000
  • If a repeat offender, then up to three years in prison

What Is False Memory Syndrome? What Does FMS Have To Do With Sex Offense Cases?

JC Law attorneys often meet with potential clients who swear they’ve never even met the accuser in question – let alone committed any sort of sex crime. In these cases, we consider that perhaps the accuser is suffering from false memory syndrome (FMS).

False memory syndrome is when people swear up and down that something happened – even though there’s no evidence that it occurred because the event never happened. 

FMS is particularly prevalent in rape and many other sex crime cases, since these criminal accusations are usually based on the accuser’s word alone. Accusers can be twisted into providing testimonies of events that simply did not happen.

How Can A Criminal Defense Attorney Defend Against Sex Offense Accusations?

When it comes to charges that mean years of jail time if convicted, you can’t risk going it alone. You need experienced criminal defense attorneys who are used to fighting for their clients against a court system that all too often can be inclined to convict before the trial is even heard.

Many clients seem to think that their innocence will see them through the legal system. Since they didn’t do it – or didn’t do what the victim alleges happened – then there’s no harm to speaking with detectives or cooperating with the police, right?

No. That’s the fastest, surest way to end up behind bars and on the sex offender registry for life – even if you’re innocent.

By hiring a sex offense attorney as soon as you hear about possible charges, you’ll defend yourself against a law enforcement system that’s seeking evidence to convict you on behalf of the accuser.

Many times, sex offense charges are based on just what the victim alleges occurred. Experienced and aggressive sex offense attorneys examine evidence for holes in their story while gathering up possible records to prove the defendant’s side to a courtroom.

Sex offense attorneys can also find possible motives behind sex offense accusations that would cast the situation in a different light to a judge and jury.

For example, let’s say that prior to the incident, the involved parties were hashing out a custody plan. All of a sudden, sex offense charges are claimed by one party against the other. That situation presents a motive for the would-be victim to make false accusations against the defendant.

Experienced sex offense attorneys bring these and other techniques to a client’s defense, allowing them to champion a fair trial and outcome for everyone involved.

Remember: Law enforcement believes the victim. You need someone who believes your side of the story.

“When Law Enforcement suddenly threw my life into a state of shock, panic and desperation, I made the VERY BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE… I called the Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates! When the time came, I feel that Mr. Crawford defended me as he would have defended his own son. Because of Mr. Crawford, my case outcome was better than I had ever dreamed of!”

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