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Maryland Rape Defense Attorneys

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Mere accusations of rape can ruin lives – if not handled by an experienced rape defense attorney like the ones at The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC. We’ve defended clients’ constitutional rights to a fair trial, so they are not judged guilty before stepping into the courtroom.

Everyone deserves to be heard, believed, and have their day in court – especially the accused. We intend to give that to you.

What Counts As Rape In Maryland?

Maryland law differentiates between classic “rape” and what it calls “sexual offenses.” Broadly speaking, both types of illegal sex acts forced on another person are considered forms of “sexual assault.”

Of the basic criminal act that’s considered rape – that is, sexual intercourse with another person unwilling or unable to consent to the act – there are two levels of severity: First degree and second degree.

  • First-degree rape: The defendant is accused of having “sexual intercourse” with another person (gender irregardless) using more extreme force. Generally, this classification is reserved for more violent acts of rape – forced with threat of death, strangling or other injury, etc. – or rape that happens during other illegal acts, such as kidnapping or burglary.
  • Second-degree rape: This time, the act is specifically engaging in “vaginal intercourse” – which means a female must be involved – and with less violent means and possibly blurred consent. Instances of underage sex, sex with an mentally incapacitated person unable to consent, and unwilling sex “by force or threat” could all be deemed second-degree rape.

Other various types of illegal sexual activity – with varying degrees of consent and circumstance – are typically classified as “sexual offenses.”

What Does Maryland Consider To Be Statutory Rape? Does Maryland Have A ‘Romeo And Juliet’ Law?

First of all, Maryland law defines statutory rape as a sexual relationship where one of the two people involved is under the age of 16.

Even if the victim says they wish to engage in the sexual acts and insists they are consensual, they do not legally have the ability to make this determination for themselves.

These cases are generally extremely difficult to fight back against, as prosecutors can pretty easily prove the age of both people involved and that sexual conduct has taken place between them.

As with all other states, how old the victim looks or says they are is not a valid defense against the crime.

There is an exemption to statutory rape laws, however: Romeo and Juliet laws.

Also known as a “close in age exception,” Romeo and Juliet laws are designed to protect teens and young lovers who are close in age to each other from prosecution when one is on the wrong side of the age of consent line.

In Maryland, this limit is three years. In other words, an 18-year-old cannot be charged with statutory rape for having intercourse with a 15-year-old, even though the 15-year-old is technically still a minor.

That is, as long as the intercourse was consensual. If the minor involved – or anyone, for that matter – claims the interaction was forced and they did not consent, then “regular” rape and sex offense laws still apply.

What Are Possible Rape Sentences In Maryland?

Per Maryland state law, the sentences vary according to the circumstances surrounding the rape – even if a defendant is found guilty of the overall rape accusation.

First-degree rape sentences can include:

  • Maximum sentence of life imprisonment with opportunity for parole for either committing or trying to commit first-degree rape
  • A minimum 25-year sentence for the convicted rape of a child under 13 by an adult over 18, without the possibility of court suspension or parole
  • Enrollment on the sex offender registry, resulting in employment struggles and security clearance disruptions
  • Possible fines and legal costs

Second-degree rape sentences can include:

  • Up to 20 years in prison for either committing or trying to commit second degree
  • A minimum of 15 years – with a max of life imprisonment – for the convicted rape of a child under 13 by an adult over 18
  • Enrollment on the sex offender registry, resulting in employment struggles and security clearance disruptions
  • Possible fines and legal costs

Even if second-degree rape is a “lesser” charge, it’s still a very serious charge with equally dire consequences attached.

Statutory rape sentences fall into various categories between sex offenses and true rape charges, depending on the age of the involved parties at the time of the sexual contact:

  • If the victim is between the ages of 14 and 15 and the defendant is over the age of 21: Statutory rape is a third-degree sexual offense, which is a felony that carries up to 10 years in prison.
  • If the victim is between the ages of 14 and 15 and the defendant is more than three years older but younger than 21: Statutory rape is a fourth-degree sexual offense, which is a misdemeanor carrying up to one year in prison
  • If the victim is younger than 14 and the defendant is more than 3 years older: Statutory rape is considered second-degree rape, which is a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison.

What Is False Memory Syndrome? How Does FMS Impact Rape Cases?

The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC, has often defended clients who are accused of a sex crime by someone they barely remember or can’t even recall meeting once. The problem isn’t our client’s memory, but the accuser’s, who might be experiencing false memory syndrome (FMS).

People who have false memory syndrome staunchly believe something happened when there is no other evidence of it occurring — due to the fact that it did not happen in reality.

FMS is a recurring problem in many sex crime cases. Accusers are often coerced by others into providing testimonies of sexual assault that simply did not happen.

How Can Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Defend Clients Against Accusations Of Rape?

While rape charges involve DNA and other technical evidence, many rape cases boil down to the testimony of the alleged victim.

That fact means that defendants accused of rape will need an aggressive criminal defense attorney. This attorney must have litigation experience who can cross-examine witnesses and undercover inconsistencies that may turn the case around from a loss to a win.

Another way that a rape defense attorney protects their client from rape charges is to demand the state’s evidence. Early review of rape evidence helps a defense team build their case and discover problems with the prosecution’s argument. Doing so offers clients a chance at a fair trial – even as their lives may have already been judged in the court of public opinion.

If someone thinks there’s even the slightest chance that they could face rape charges, then it is imperative that they understand how the system works. Even if the defendant believes it is unfair or wrong, the job of the detectives is to contact you and the witnesses very quickly before you have the chance to contact a criminal defense lawyer.

You can foil that strategy by reaching out to a rape defense lawyer as soon as possible.

“The accusations were outlandish, false, and slandered both my character and my name. I was in need to find strong legal representation that would see through the fabricated story. [My attorney Aaron] Goodwin’s priority was to understand who I am as a person before putting together any type of defense strategy. The result was a favorable decision on my behalf. I am confident that without the firm’s representation, the outcome would have been different.”

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