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Owens v. State

Maryland Court of Appeals
724 A.2d 43 (1999)



A police officer discovered Timothy Owens (defendant), 18, and Ariel Johnson getting dressed in the rear seat of a parked car. When asked how old she was by the officer, Johnson said she was 16-years-old. However, it was later learned that Johnson was only 13-years-old. Owens was charged with second-degree rape under a state statute that made sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 14 a felony offense. At trial, Johnson admitted that she and Owens had sexual intercourse and that she had told him that she was 16-years-old. Owens filed a motion to dismiss the charge claiming there was a reasonable mistake of fact regarding Johnson’s true age that negated Owens’ guilt. The trial court denied the motion based on the holding of Garnett v. State, 632 A.2d 797 (Md.1993), which interpreted the state’s rape statute to be a strict liability offense. The trial judge noted that, under Garnett, mistake of age could only be used as a mitigating factor at the time of Owens’ sentencing. Owens was found guilty, sentenced to a term in prison as well as probation, and ordered to register as a child sex offender. Owens appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Chasanow, J.)

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