Governor Moore to Sign the Consent Bill

May 14th, 2024

Silver Spring, Md., May 14, 2024 — On Thursday, May 16, 2024, Governor Wes Moore will sign the bill on rape and consent (House Bill 496) into law. Passed by the Maryland General Assembly in April, the bill repeals the requirement that the state prove “force or threat of force” in 2nd degree rape cases, and creates a definition of “consent” applicable throughout the sex crimes subtitle. Its passage completes a years long effort to reform Maryland’s rape law.

The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) was honored to lead the way in advocating for this important bill, and we are ever grateful to all the courageous survivors who bravely shared their stories about how the justice system failed them.

Historically and in Maryland’s jury instructions, proof of force depended on whether a rape victim resisted an attack. Schools all over Maryland teach children that consent is needed before sexual intimacy. Now our laws are based on the same principle.

As MCASA’s Executive Director, Lisae C. Jordan, Esq., testified, “Human beings are not walking invitations to have sex, and the policy of the state should not be that until we say no, we mean yes.”

Lead sponsor Delegate Emily Shetty emphasized the significance of having a consent definition in statute: “The addition of a concrete definition of consent is important for survivors, judges, and our communities. Sex without consent should be a crime.”

MCASA helped amplify the voices of survivors as they testified on the shortcomings of the current law and the need for access to justice. Students from across the state told their stories and expressed their outrage that sex without consent was not always considered rape under Maryland’s criminal law. Joyce King, Chief Counsel for the Frederick County State’s Attorney Office led a strong coalition of prosecutors supporting the bill, including elected State’s Attorneys Aisha Braveboy and Ivan Bates, and special victims prosecutors Debbie Feinstein, Gavin Patashnick, Jessie Garth, and Deputy State’s Attorney Christine Dulla. Attorney General Anthony Brown provided crucial and effective advocacy for survivors. Together this team helped give more survivors access to justice and sent the clear message that Maryland believes consent is fundamental.

MCASA is the federally-recognized state sexual assault coalition responsible for certifying comprehensive rape crisis/sexual assault programs to ensure services are survivor centered. MCASA's core members are the State's 17 rape crisis centers, and the Coalition also represents the voices of many other member professionals, programs, and service providers working with sexual assault survivors. MCASA includes the Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI), which provides direct legal services to victims of sexual violence across the state of Maryland. MCASA is the leading public policy advocate for survivors of sexual assault in Annapolis and more information about 2024 legislative priorities and services for survivors can be found at


Press Contacts:

Lisae C. Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director and Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault
i[email protected] 

Delegate Emily Shetty
Maryland House of Delegates
[email protected]

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