Attaching the word “rape” to any criminal offense almost immediately compounds its severity. This may be due to the general assumption that most have that the crime of rape seems fairly straightforward. Yet that may not be the case.
When the people involved are teens or young adults, it introduces the potential of statutory rape, which describes sexual contact that (while consensual) is still against the law. Maryland does not have a specific statutory rape statute, but some of its laws address scenarios where young people could face criminal scrutiny for the aforementioned actions.
Sexual activity involving minors
For example, Section 3-304 of the Maryland Code defines sexual intercourse between individuals where one is under the age of 14 and at least four years younger than the partner as second-degree rape on the part of that partner. Sexual acts between someone over the age of 18 and another under the age of 13 also qualify as second-degree rape.
Third-degree sexual offenses cover infractions that fall under the definition of statutory rape. This includes the touching of the sexual organs of someone under the age of 16 by a partner over the age of 21. Any sexual act involving someone under the age of 15 with a partner older than them by four years qualifies as a fourth-degree sexual offense.
In certain cases, actual sexual activity need not occur to qualify as a sexual offense. An example of this may be child enticement, which defines someone inviting a minor to engage in sexual activity as a crime (even if the activity does ultimately not occur).
Because being on the sex offender registry can be so damaging to a person’s reputation, education opportunities and career, fighting statutory rape charges is critical.