CRIMINAL ABUSe Defense Attorneys in Maryland
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A criminal abuse charge in the state of Maryland is a serious matter. Conviction on such charges can lead to strict penalties such as up to 30 years jail time, large fines, and loss of other privileges. Although the word “abuse can seem a bit general, the legal definition is stated in the Code of Maryland as a “physical injury sustained by a minor as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment or as a result of a malicious act under circumstances that indicate that the minor’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened by the treatment or act.” There are several different categories of abuse that are important to understand. Specifically, conviction of abuse of the elderly or disabled, and abuse of a child all carry especially stiff penalties.
Abuse or Neglect of Vulnerable Adults
One form of abuse that many people might not be aware of is the abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults, including the elderly and disabled. At times this form of abuse is overlooked and isn’t given attention, but there are specific laws set up to protect those adults who are classified as vulnerable. The care of a “vulnerable” person means assisting a person who is unable to meet their own needs because of a physical or mental limitation or impairment. Custodians and primary caregivers are required to provide a certain level of attention to those in their care. This care varies depending on vulnerable adults level of ability and might include assistance with medication, physical help, transportation, feeding, bathing, and so on.
Forms of this abuse might include physical abuse, financial exploitation, emotional or sexual abuse, and simply neglecting to care for the elderly. Abuse and neglect at assisted living facilities are actually much more common than you might think. There are several agencies in Maryland that attempt to promote awareness of elder abuse. A conviction on charges of a vulnerable person or elder abuse carries a strict penalty and can result in up to ten years in prison or a $10,000 fine.
It should be no surprise that the charge of child abuse carries one of the harshest penalties. A minor is classified as a person under the age of 18 and there are different terms for children under the age of 13. In Maryland, conviction on a charge of child abuse can result in up to 25 years of imprisonment. This sentence can be extended 40 years to life in prison in the event of a death of a child due to abuse. There are several different categories of child abuse that the criminal charges could fall into. First degree, second degree, and sexual abuse of a minor all have different penalties.
- First degree charges: In Maryland, first-degree child abuse and includes a family member or custodian causing physical harm to a minor (under the age of 18). Physical abuse of or injury to a child may not be visible. A serious injury or neglect is classified as a brain injury, starvation, or treatment of a minor that causes a risk of death. Conviction of first degree charges of physical abuse of a minor is classified as a felony and can result in up to 25 years in jail. In the event of a death as a result of physical abuse, the terms become increasingly strict (30 years to life in prison).
- Second degree charges: A second degree abuse happens when a child receives a non-serious physical injury by a parent or guardian. It can also refer to serious physical abuse that is caused by someone other than the guardian or parent of the child. This could be another family member or a member of the household. A member of the household is defined as a person that is related to the child (by either blood or adoption) and serves as a regular presence in the household of the child. In the case of an injury caused by a non-guardian or parent, the definitions of injury remain the same as with a first-degree offense. The penalty for this sort of conviction ranges up to fifteen years in prison. A second offense results in a more strict penalty, a maximum of up to 25 years in prison.
Sexual Abuse of a Person Under the Age of 18
Sexual abuse of a minor is treated as a highly punishable act in the state of Maryland. In the case of sexual abuse of a minor, there may not be any visible physical injuries present. The term “sexual abuse” refers to an act that involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a minor, whether physical injuries are sustained or not. This definition includes but is not limited to the act of molestation, incest, rape, and sexual advances in any degree. A guardian, parent, family member, or household member who engages in the sexual abuse of a minor can be penalized with up to 25 years in prison. There are additional protections set to prevent sexual abuse of a minor. Maryland has enacted strict penalties for those who are engaging in sex trafficking of minors. In 2012, Maryland passed legislation to include this as a classification of child abuse. In the event that a family or household member attempts to sell or trade sexual acts of a minor for money or property, there is a penalty of five years in prison or a $10,000 fine upon conviction.
Contact a Maryland Criminal Abuse Lawyer
Criminal abuse in Maryland can take on many forms. If you have been charged with abuse in the state of Maryland, or believe that you are at risk for facing this sort of charge, this is a serious matter. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help protect your rights and freedom.
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