The Romeo and Juliet laws protect consensual sexual relations between a minor and someone who may be a certain age older than the minor. As long as the age difference between the couple is less than three years and the minor is over 14 years old, sexual intercourse is not considered legal rape. In this spirit, it is important to remember that all sexual crimes are vigorously prosecuted. Although legal rape cases fall into a slightly different category due to Romeo and Juliet laws, they are still eagerly prosecuted and deserve the attention of a legal rape attorney in Maryland. There is no specific crime called legal rape in Maryland, but there are a variety of laws that prohibit sexual activity or contact with minors under a certain age. Before we get into the details of these laws, it`s important to understand the difference between rape and all other sexual acts. By definition, rape involves only non-consensual vaginal intercourse. All other unlawful acts fall into the four categories of sexual offences, the first degree being the most serious and the fourth degree the lowest. The most common crime, which resembles legal rape, is a fourth-degree sexual offense. This law prohibits anyone from having sexual intercourse or sexual acts with a 14- or 15-year-old if the person is more than 4 years older than the victim. In other words, a 19-year-old (or 18-year-old if their birthday is later) or older can`t have sex or engage in an act with a 14-year-old, and a 20+-year-old (or 19-year-old if their birthday is later) can`t do anything sexual with a 15-year-old. Consensual sexual interference is only covered by this law if the defendant was 21+ and in a position of authority (an employee such as a teacher, coach or counselor) in a school where the victim was enrolled. Although it is an offence punishable by up to 1 year in prison, it carries the possibility of being a sex offender and having to register for 15 years after conviction.
In addition, this charge is often accompanied by a charge of second-degree assault, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. For example, a 15-year-old second-year student and an 18-year-old student are protected by the laws of Romeo and Juliet. The 18-year-old cannot be charged with legal rape, provided the sexual intercourse was consensual. Civil laws may be a factor. Recent legislation extends the time limit for filing a civil lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse to 20 years after the victim has grown up, or four years after the offender has been convicted criminally, unless there is a position of “trust.” The current limit is seven years after reaching adulthood. The law entered into force on 1 October 2017. Third-degree sexual offense is another common crime, often mistakenly referred to as legal rape. For this crime, it is helpful to understand the definition of some important terms associated with these laws. A sexual act may include anal or oral sex, or penetration by other means. Sexual contact, on the other hand, does not include an act that involves penetration.
Rather, it involves touching the intimate areas of the victim or accused. Sexual contact with a minor under the age of 14 if the person is at least 4 years older than the victim is a third-degree sexual offence. Minors under the age of 18 can also be charged with this crime if the victim is over 4 years of age. This offence also prohibits a person 21 years of age or older from engaging in a sexual act or vaginal intercourse with a minor aged 14 or 15. The maximum penalty for this crime is 10 years in prison and the possibility of registration for 25 years. However, there is one important exception. Maryland has “close in age” exceptions. The narrow age exceptions, commonly referred to as “Romeo and Juliet laws,” provide exceptions for sexually active children who are almost the same age. Laws exist to prevent persecution of people engaged in consensual sexual activity when both participants are very close to each other at an advanced age and one or both partners have not reached the age of consent. As long as the age difference between the couple is less than three years and the minor is over 14 years old, sexual intercourse is not considered legal rape. Maryland has a variety of laws that prohibit sexual activity or contact with minors under a certain age.
It does not matter whether the child consents to or initiates sexual activity. Lawful rape is defined as sexual intercourse between two people, one of whom has not yet reached the age of consent. In Maryland, the age of consent is 16, which means that a person below that age is not legally able to give consent to sexual intercourse, whether they want to or how old they go.