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Marital Rape

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In the U.S., every state has created its own laws regarding marital rape. At its most basic level, marital rape is unwanted sexual behavior between wedded partners. The Texas Penal Code classifies marital rape as a type of sexual assault. Sexual assault occurs when a person intimately or erotically touches another without consent. An individual’s consent may be withheld if the actions are done with force or the threat of force. Furthermore, a person who is unconscious or unresponsive because of drugs, alcohol or disabilities is said to withhold consent.

The sexual assault of a partner may be upgraded to aggravated sexual assault (with harsher criminal penalties) if any of the following conditions apply:

  • The victim was in fear of bodily harm
  • The accused caused or threatened bodily harm to the victim or a third party
  • The accused brandished a deadly weapon during the alleged attack

Affirmative Defenses for Marital Rape

An affirmative defense exists if the defendant admits to committing the crime, but he claims there was a valid reason for his actions. In cases of statutory rape, persons are deemed to have withheld their consent due to age. If the defendant is married to someone who has not reached the age of consent, Texas law allows the defendant to use marriage as an affirmative defense. In order for this defense to work, the couple’s union must be recognized by the state of Texas, and it will only apply to cases that do not involve threats or force.

Criminal Penalties for Marital Rape

In the state of Texas, marital rape is considered a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies carry prison terms that last between two and 20 years. If marital rape is upgraded to aggravated sexual assault, it becomes a first-degree felony that is punishable with five to 99 years in confinement.

In addition to prison time, an individual who is convicted of marital rape might have to register as a sex offender. The Texas sex offender registry would list the perpetrator’s name, home address and criminal conviction. If he decides to relocate, he has to register again. People who fail to do so are charged with a separate crime and will face additional criminal penalties.

If you live in the Houston metropolitan area, attorney Brett A. Podolsky can provide you with answers for all your questions about marital rape. Give him a call today at 713-227-0087.

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