Violent Crimes & Felonies in Maryland

First Degree Assault: First degree assault involves intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict a serious physical injury to someone. A serious physical injury is one that creates a substantial risk of death or causes permanent or serious disfigurement or damage to a bodily organ. First degree assault is a felony and the maximum penalty is 25 years in prison.

Second Degree Rape: Rape is the act of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse against his or her will. All rape charges involve five elements 1. vaginal intercourse 2. with another person 3. by force or threat of force 4. against the will and 5. without the consent of the other person. A defendant can be convicted of second degree rape, even without force, if the victim is mentally incapacitated, physically helpless, or under the age of 14 (and the defendant is at least 4 years older). Second-degree rape is a felony and the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison.

First Degree Rape: First degree rape involves all of the same elements as second degree rape (1. vaginal intercourse 2. with another person 3. by force or threat of force 4. against the will and 5. without the consent of the other person) but also requires additional, what courts call, “aggravating factors.” The “aggravating factors” that elevate a second degree rape charge up to a first degree rape charge are: use or display of a deadly weapon in the course of the offense (like a gun or a knife), inflection of serious physical injury in the course of the offense (like suffocation or strangulation), threat of serious physical injury to the victim or a third party, aiding or abetting by other co-defendants in the course of the offense, and/or commission of the offense during a burglary. First Degree Rape is a felony and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

First Degree Murder: First-degree murder involves a pre-planned intentional killing. First-degree murder is a felony and the maximum penalty is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Felony-Murder: Felony-murder occurs when a person commits a felony, other than murder, and kills another person during the commission of that felony. Felonies that constitute felony murder include, rape, arson, carjacking, burglary, and kidnapping. For example, if an individual is committing arson and someone dies in the fire resulting from that arson, the arsonist is guilty of felony murder. Felony murder is considered first-degree murder. Felony Murder is a felony and the maximum penalty is life in prison without possibility of parole.

Second Degree Murder: Second-degree murder involves either an unplanned, intentional killing or a death as a result of reckless disregard for human life (sometimes called “depraved heart murder.”) A depraved heart murder is the result of actions that an individual knows are very likely to cause death but chooses to ignore the risk and commits anyway. Second-degree murder is a felony and the maximum penalty is 30 years in prison.

Voluntary Manslaughter: Manslaughter can be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is an intentional killing that is decreased from either first or second-degree murder because the court finds that the killer was adequately provoked. This is often referred to as a “heat of passion” murder. The most common example of voluntary manslaughter is when an individual walks in on a cheating spouse engaged in sexual activity with another person and the individual kills one or both of them immediately. Voluntary manslaughter is a felony and the maximum penalty is $500 and/or 10 years in jail.

Negligent Homicide by Automobile: Negligent homicide involves carelessly driving a car while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two and killing another person as a result of the careless driving. Negligent homicide is a felony and the maximum penalty is $5000 and or 3 years in prison.

Failure to comply with a peace order: When a peace order (commonly known as a restraining order) is filed against an individual, that individual is obligated to follow the requirements of the order. Peace order requirements often forbid an individual from contacting someone, forbid an individual from going to someone’s place of employment and/or forbid an individual from going to someone’s home. Violating a peace order is a misdemeanor and the maximum penalty is $1000 and/or 90 days in jail. The maximum penalty for a second offense is $2500 and/or 1 year in prison. 

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