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What qualifies as sexual assault?

Sexual assault is, unfortunately, a common crime to be charged in courts throughout the United States. But, what exactly is sexual assault, and what are the consequences for someone facing sexual assault charges? The definition of sexual assault varies by state, but generally speaking it is any sexual touching that is considered to be unwanted and offensive.

Sexual assault can also take many forms, and is often used as an umbrella term which would also include attempted rape, assault and battery or sexual groping. This can be done to a victim through any form of force or coercion. Sexual assault also includes sexual touching to a person who is incapacitated. This is often the case when a victim becomes intoxicated or has been given a "date rape" pill.

Sexual assault laws may also cover non-consensual sexual contact between people. This is applicable to all people, regardless of age, gender, sex or sexual orientation. Contrary to what some people believe, sexual assault extends to any human, whether it is a stranger someone meets at the bar, between employees or anyone at work, between family members, a boyfriend or girlfriend or even a husband or wife.

Crimes of sexual assault are taken very seriously in Maryland. If a defendant is found guilty, that individual may face life-long consequences, including a severe prison sentence, fines and inclusion in federal and state sex offender registries. This may also limit a person's ability to find a job or even impact where the person is eligible to live.

Source:, "Sexual Assault Overview," Dec. 6, 2016

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