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Sentencing Guidelines for Convicted Sexual Offenders in Maryland

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What Are Maryland’s Guidelines for Convicted Sexual Offenders?

Maryland law has a lengthy document covering numerous aspects of sentencing guidelines for convicted sexual offenders. There are various aspects of how sentences are determined, with almost countless factors involved, everything from the severity of the crime to the sexual offender’s criminal past to the variables of the offense itself.

The first thing many people think of when they consider sentencing for sexual crimes is jail time. That’s certainly a possibility (and probability in many cases), but another consequence can be the offender having to register on the sex offender registry. What’s covered in this post is not meant to be comprehensive but an overview of what guidelines may recommend when a sexual offender is convicted.

What Are the Different Degrees of Sexual Offense in Maryland?

Maryland recognizes four degrees of sexual offense with different severity levels and complications.

First degree

First-degree sexual offense occurs when someone forces or threatens force while trying to engage in nonconsensual sex. The force of threat of force includes:

  • Committing the force or threat of force as part of a burglary, whether the burglary is first, second, or third-degree.
  • The force caused serious injury to the victim.
  • The force or threat was committed with the help of an additional person (or more).
  • The use or display of a weapon accompanied the force or threat.
  • The victim had cause to fear serious injury or even kidnapping.

When the offender is convicted of first-degree sexual offense, it can be a felony handled similarly to first-degree rape. The perpetrator could face up to life in prison with no possibility of parole. If the perpetrator is at least 18 years old, the victim is under 13, or the crime happened while a child was being kidnapped, the perpetrator may face a minimum mandatory 25 years in prison up to life in prison with no parole.

Second-degree

Second-degree sexual offense has many of the same factors in terms of the use or threat of force as first-degree sexual offense. The primary difference from the first degree is the people involved in the crime.

  • The perpetrator attempts or succeeds in a sexual offense against a physically helpless or mentally incompetent person.
  • The perpetrator, who is at least four years older than the victim, attempts or succeeds in a sexual offense against a person 14 years or younger. 

When the offender is convicted of second-degree sexual offense, it can be a felony handled similarly to second-degree rape. The perpetrator could face up to 20 years in prison. If the perpetrator is at least 18 years old and the victim is under 13, the perpetrator may face a minimum mandatory 15 years in prison up to life in prison.

Third Degree

If the perpetrator attempts nonconsensual sex with someone who doesn’t meet the criteria above, it may be charged as third-degree if they’ve also done one of the following.

  • The perpetrator attempts or succeeds in a sexual offense against a physically helpless or mentally incompetent person.
  • They committed the crime with at least one other person.
  • The victim felt they were in serious danger of injury or kidnapping, or the perpetrator showed them a weapon or other object that could be used to cause harm.
  • The victim was seriously injured.
  • The perpetrator attempts or succeeds in a sexual offense against a person 14 years or younger when the perpetrator is at least four years older or the perpetrator is at least 21 and attempted nonconsensual sex with someone 14 or 15 years old. 

Someone convicted of a third-degree sexual offense could face up to 10 years in prison.

Fourth Degree

Fourth degree is a category that doesn’t meet the terms of the first three degrees but does include attempts at nonconsensual sex with the following.

  • The perpetrator was at least four years older than the victim but still under the age of 21.
  • The victim was 14 or 15.
  • The victim was under 18 and hurt by someone at least 21 who worked in a position of authority at the victim’s school. 

First convictions could result in up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If there are prior convictions, the consequences will likely be more severe.

What is the Sex Offender Registration List?

Someone convicted of a sexual offense in Maryland is likely to be placed on a sex offender registration list. That listing is available to the public, with the exception of the perpetrator’s Social Security number and fingerprints, as well as the identity of the victim. Public info includes where the perpetrator lives, works, or is enrolled in school, photographs, and what term they’re registered for.

Maryland recognizes three terms, or tiers, for how long someone must be on this list after conviction. 

  • Tier I. This is the least severe and includes fourth-degree offenses. The required registration period is 15 years.
  • Tier II. The next level could be third-degree offenses, and registration is required for 25 years.
  • Tier III. This can include first- through third-degree offenses, depending on circumstances, and this registration is for life. 

What Should I Do if I Need Help with a Sexual Offense Case?

Call Andreozzi + Foote at 866-311-8640 for a free, confidential consultation. We can help if you want to pursue civil damages against an institution or organization responsible for the abuse you endured. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable sexual abuse attorneys understands how devastating and traumatic this type of crime is.

We prioritize confidentiality and will treat your case as seriously as we’d treat our own.

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