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Defining consent in Maryland

The state of Maryland does not have a specific definition of consent for purposes of determining if a sex act is lawful. However, there are many factors that can be looked at when determining if a sex crime was committed. For instance, consent cannot be given if a person is under age 14 and his or her partner is four or more years older. Consent also cannot be given if a person is mentally incapacitated.

The law defines an individual as mentally incapacitated if he or she cannot ascertain what is happening. This person also would not be able to resist being penetrated or otherwise touched in a sexual way. If a person has a cognitive issue that makes it impossible to resist or communicate an unwillingness to participate in sex, he or she cannot give consent.

In Maryland, someone who is awake and competent must show that he or she explicitly resisted someone's sexual advances. It is acceptable for a person to claim that he or she never resisted for fear of reprisal. This could mean that the victim felt threatened or that a specific threat was levied on a victim for not complying with an attacker's instructions. A woman may withdraw consent at any point prior to penetration occurring.

Those who are charged with sex crimes against adults or children could face personal and professional penalties if convicted. A conviction could result in jail time as well as being listed on the sex offender registry. This could limit where an individual is allowed to live, which would also limit where they could work. An attorney may attempt to suppress evidence or cast doubt on witness testimony in an effort to obtain a favorable outcome for a defendant.

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