Any sexually based crime is a heinous event and can leave lifelong physical, mental and emotional scars on the victim. For this reason the state of Maryland takes allegations of this type very seriously and has developed four degrees of sexual assault charges. These can range in severity from first degree sexual assault, which are the most serious, to fourth degree charges which are the least severe. So here are some common examples of the different degrees of sexual assault charges.
If someone in Maryland is charged with first degree sexual assault, then the state believes that this person has committed a sexual act with another person against their will. This act can include anal or oral sex or using any part of one's body to penetrate the other person's body for their own sexual gratification. The act must have been accomplished by force or a threat of using force along with brandishing a weapon of some kind.
Second degree sexual assault involves a sexual act with another person either through force or without the victim's consent. It can also involve having sex with a mentally or physically challenged person, including someone who is either high or inebriated. A second degree sexual assault charge can also stem from any sex act with a person under the age of 14, especially if the person charged with the assault is at least four years older than the victim.
A third degree sexual assault charge usually involves sexual contact of some type. This commonly includes either touching the victim sexually or having the victim touch the defendant for his or her sexual gratification. The situations of a third degree sexual assault are very similar to those described for second degree assault.
Fourth degree sexual assault refers to sexual contact without the other person's consent or vaginal sex with a 14 or 15 year old where the defendant is at least four years older. It also includes having sexual contact or vaginal sex with someone who is below the age of 18 and who was a student while the person charged with the crime was in an authoritative position.
It is important to understand that forced vaginal intercourse in not covered by sexual assault laws in Maryland, but by the state's stringent rape laws. However, any Maryland resident who is facing sexual assault charges may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney in order to find out about the potential consequences of those charges.
Source: statelaws.findlaw.com. "Maryland rape and sexual assault laws", Accessed September 12, 2016