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What are Sex Crimes?

Sex crimes are criminal acts that have a sexual nature. Sexual assault may be involved in such incidents. Common examples of sex crimes are statutory rape, indecent exposure and rape.

These activities are considered crimes because they are not mutually consensual. One party may use threats, violence or force to coerce their victim into participating in sexual acts. Certain actions may be illegal if they are performed with minors or others who cannot physically or verbally consent or agree to them.

What are Internet-Based Sex Crimes?

There are several different kinds of sex crimes that are based on activities that occur on the world wide web. Some typical types of Internet-based sex crimes are:

  • Cyberstalking. Cyberstalking refers to using text messages, instant messaging and other forms of online communication to bother or harass another person. Unsolicited messages that threaten another may be sent, sometimes with graphic, vulgar images or video content. Cyberstalkers may use their real names or they could set up fake accounts to bother different people.
  • Sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is the exploitation of a person who is illegally moved across city, state, county or country lines for the purposes of performing sexual acts for or on others. Many sex trafficker clients are found online. The trafficker will start a conversation and negotiate a deal. When an agreement is reached, a victim will be sent to perform those services.

Traffickers may physically force people to be transported against their will. They may also threaten to harm victims or their loved ones. Sex traffickers may also try to shame the people who have been coerced into working for them.

  • Sexting. Sexting is the practice of sending sexually explicit messages to another person. This isn’t always unusual for adults who are already in committed relationships with one another, However, officials in the state of Maryland take a closer look at such activities when a minor is involved.
  • Child pornography. It is illegal for anyone in Maryland to develop, own or possess pornographic material that depicts minors involved in sexual acts. People cannot search online for such images or other graphic content either.
  • Solicitation. Online solicitation involves people who are looking for others to engage in sexual activities with them. Their respondents are usually paid for those actions. People may be solicited via text message, instant message, or on social media and other websites.

What Are the Penalties for These Crimes?

People who have been found guilty of cyberstalking in the state of Maryland can be fined up to $10,000 and/or be sentenced to prison time of no more than three years. The largest penalty for a human trafficking conviction is a $5,000 fine and/or up to ten years in jail, according to the Maryland criminal law code Section 3-1102. However, those punishments can be increased to $15,000 in fines and/or a maximum of twenty-five years of prison time if the defendant was found guilty and the victim was a person under 18 years of age.

As of this writing, there are no sexting laws in Maryland. Sexting incidents that involve minors are currently included in the state’s laws and penalties regarding child pornography. People found guilty of child pornography for the first time can be sentenced to no more than ten years in prison or ordered to pay a fine not to exceed $25,000. Those amounts can double for repeat violations.

Solicitation convictions in Maryland can result in a jail term of up to a year and/or a fine of up to $500. These penalties are usually assigned to offenders who have had minimal issues with the law or may have even had a clean record prior to their arrest. Penalties can be increased for repeat offenses.

There are also certain federal penalties for some online sex crimes. If cyberstalking attempts are made across state or country borders, the accused could be ordered to pay a fine of as much as $250,000 or sentenced to up to five years in jail. A prison sentence of as much as 20 years and/or a fine may be assessed for people who have been found guilty of sex trafficking across country or state lines.

Statutory sexting penalties can range from 10 years to life in prison. A prison sentence of 15 years and/or possible fines are the statutory penalties for owning, distributing or developing child pornography. The federal solicitation penalty will not exceed half of the fine and or imprisonment sentence for the federal crime that the defendant was found guilty of committing.

What Should I Do If I’m Accused of a Sex Crime?

It’s recommended to seek legal counsel if you’ve been accused of a sex crime. The lawyers at JC Law are here to help. Our trained professionals can offer valuable insight and advice as to what your next steps will be. Contact us to schedule a consultation. We’ll sit down and listen to you.

The best thing you can do is, to be honest. Hiding evidence or failing to disclose material information can only make things worse. Listen to legal counsel and attend all scheduled hearings. Answer each question to the best of your ability. Cooperation may result in less severe penalties. It may even help you get back on your feet again in no time.

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