Garnett v. State

332 Md. 571, 632 A.2d 797 (1993)



Maryland's second degree rape statute defines a strict liability offense that does not require the State to prove mens rea; it makes no allowance for a mistake-of-age defense.


The Circuit Court for Montgomery County (Maryland) convicted defendant, a 20 year old retarded male, of second-degree rape of a 13 year old girl. Defendant appealed alleging that evidence that defendant was told by victim that she was 16 years old was excluded. The Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court's judgment of conviction.


Was mistake of age a valid defense for statutory rape in this case?




The court held (1) the second degree rape statute, § 463(a)(3), was a strict liability offense that did not require the state to prove mens rea; (2) as such, defendant was guilty of the second degree rape by engaging in sexual intercourse with the victim, who was under fourteen years of age and four years his junior; and (3) the mistake-of-age defense was not allowable under § 463(a)(3), which made no reference to defendant's knowledge, belief, or other state of mind.

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