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Several bills in Maryland could significantly change rape laws

Certain rape cases have received a lot of national attention lately, particularly when they involve defendants who, in the court of public opinion, were not penalized thoroughly enough. However unfair this perception of those accused of rape may be, it has not escaped the attention of legislators who are doubling down on rape laws in Maryland.

Maryland's sexual assault laws may see an overhaul if several bills currently making their way through the General Assembly are enacted. Under one bill, prosecutors will no longer need to show that victims of rape resisted those accused of raping them. Another bill would expand what constitutes rape in Maryland to include more types of activities, other than just vaginal penetration. A third bill would make it so if a woman becomes pregnant due to the alleged rape, the man's parental rights to the child can be terminated.

Those in support of the bills believe they reflect our nation's current position regarding the crime of rape. In addition to these measures officials in Baltimore County have committed to reforming how incidents of alleged rape are investigated, this coming after law officers in the county received criticism for identifying cases of alleged rape as "unfounded" at a level that significantly exceeded the national average.

It is important to remember that the bills are still making their way through the legislative process, so they may still be modified or may not be enacted at all. Even mere accusations of rape can have a significant effect on a person's reputation, and should a person be convicted of rape, it could affect their entire future, including where they may work and where they may live after serving their sentence. Therefore, it is important to keep a close eye on any changes to current sexual assault laws in order to understand how they will be applied in the future.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "General Assembly advancing bills that would update Maryland sexual assault laws," Ian Duncan, March 24, 2017

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