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Posted on October 30, 2013 by Law Office of Brett A Podolsky
Different states have their own interpretations of the appropriate age at which a person can legally give their consent to engage in sexual activity. This is an important distinction because criminal penalties can apply in cases that involve illegal sexual activity with people below the age of consent.
In Texas, the age of consent is 17. This means that the youngest age that someone can legally engage in sexual activity in Texas without the possibility of criminal consequences is 17 years of age.
Age of Consent in Texas
As stated above, the age of consent in Texas is 17 years of age. In most cases, age of consent laws are invoked when an adult over the age of 18 engages in sexual activity with a minor. The age of consent laws in Texas are designed to separate consensual sexual relationships from non-consensual relationships.
Age of consent laws also serve the purpose of establishing legal punishments for adults who have sex with minors. Because minors may not understand the nature of sexual experiences or the repercussions those experiences can have, they are legally unable to give consent, even if they willingly engage in sexual activity with an adult. For this reason, this type of sexual activity can result in charges of statutory rape.
Statutory Rape and Sexual Assault
Statutory rape is defined as sexual activity between an adult and a minor under the age of consent. This is a “strict liability” crime, meaning that the willingness of the minor or the ignorance of the adult about the minor’s age is not a valid legal defense.
Federal law makes it a crime to engage in sexual activity with a person between the age of 12 and 16 if the one of the individuals is at least four years younger than the older individual. Texas law also employs a system of age differentials in statutory rape cases.
In Texas, age of consent laws take into account the relative age of the individuals that have engaged in sexual activity. This means that a minor who engages in sexual activity with another minor does not necessarily have to be charged with a crime in the same way that an adult who had sex with a minor would be charged.
Texas law states that minors who engage in sex with another minor who is within three years of their own age do not have to be charged with statutory rape. This prevents minors from being convicted on charges that could have lifelong consequences.
Cases that involve age of consent laws can be complex and are best discussed with an attorney who has experience with age of consent cases.
For more information, contact attorney Brett Podolsky at 713.227.0087.