In the wake of recent social movements, there has been a lot of concern about sexual assault and rape both in Maryland and throughout the rest of the country.
As this movement has underscored, it is important to remember that rape isn't just something a person can be accused of if they engage in the sort of behavior one often sees in police dramas and horror shows.
According to Maryland law, any sort of force, or threat thereof, that is meant to compel someone to engage in sexual acts can justify a rape charge. This can include pushing, blocking, hitting and the like.
Engaging in sexual behavior with someone who cannot physically give consent, such as if they are asleep, can also give rise to a rape charge.
A rape charge can also apply when an adult is not fully capable of giving consent, such as if they are mentally impaired or even profoundly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Relatively recent changes to these laws have made it easier for the state to secure rape convictions, as these changes, among other things, took away the requirement that the victim showed some resistance to the rape.
Not surprisingly, this sort of crime, even without aggravating circumstances, is a felony, and it can land a person in prison for up to 20 years.
In reading the law, one might be able to see that a person can go to a party one evening, have too much to drink, and wake up the next morning facing a very serious criminal allegation.
While of course no one wants to be insensitive to those who are claiming to have been sexually assaulted, it is also important for people to remember that those accused of these sorts of crimes have a right to see the state prove their case before accepting serious criminal punishments. Whether to exercise this right, and in what manner, is a question best left to an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.