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She’s Only 17? Texas Statutory Rape Penalties

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The state of Texas considers a child under the age of 17 unable to consent to sex. As a result, those who are found engaging in sexual conduct with others less than age 17 could be charged with statutory rape. The Texas Penal Code does not actually spell out the crime of statutory rape; instead, the act is considered to be a varying degree of sexual assault.

Sexual Assault vs. Aggravated Sexual Assault

Sexual assault occurs whenever there is sexual penetration between someone who is less than 17 years of age and another person who is at least three years older than the victim is. The act is considered to be sexual assault even if it was consensual or the actor was unaware of the child’s age. This crime is a second-degree felony, and is punishable by:

  • Between two and 20 years in prison
  • Fine of up to $10,000

The act is considered to be aggravated sexual assault whenever it involves any one of the following:

  • A minor who is age 13 or younger
  • Threat or force
  • Serious bodily injury to the victim
  • Use of a deadly weapon

In these instances, the crime is a first-degree felony. It is punishable by a minimum of five years in prison, with the maximum jail sentence being as much as 99 years. This is in addition to a fine of up to $10,000.

Other Sanctions

In some instances, those who are convicted of statutory rape may be required to register as a sex offender. This may be only for a period of time or for a lifetime, depending upon the circumstances and number of prior convictions, if any. Those who are found guilty of statutory rape may be prohibited from working in certain occupations, and could also find it difficult to find employment or suitable housing due to the negative stigma associated with this offense.

Possible Defenses

Those who are accused of statutory rape do have a few defenses available under Texas law including:

  • The defendant and victim were husband and wife
  • The accused was three or fewer years older than the alleged victim

An individual may not claim that he or she was unaware of the other party’s age or that the victim purported to be of age. Statutory rape is a crime of strict liability, which means that prosecutors do not even have to prove intent in order to convict someone of this crime. Those who are charged with statutory rape would do well to seek advice from a criminal defense attorney.

It is very easy to get tricked into having sex with a minor. If you are in this position or are being falsely accused of statutory rape, then you need to sit down and talk to an experienced statutory rape attorney today. Schedule a free legal consultation session with Brett A. Podolsky by calling 713.227.0087.

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