A charge of a sex crime or sexual assault may have immediate consequences on a person’s life. Although in the court of law, a person’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In the real world, friends, relatives and neighbors will begin to judge a person as soon as the accusation occurs. Charges of a sexual nature with a child carry even harsher punishments, both in the legal system and in the court of public opinion. If convicted, you may be required to register as a sex offender, potentially for the rest of your life.
It is important to contact an experienced sex crimes defense attorney like Brett Podolsky as soon as possible to reduce or immediately dismiss these charges.
Are you facing criminal charges for sex crimes in the state of Texas? Allow attorney Brett Podolsky to help you navigate a complex legal system. He has a strong track record of defending his clients and getting the best results possible.
In Texas, sexual assault means intentionally or knowingly and without the other party’s consent:
Sexual assault includes:
The legal age of consent in Texas is 17 years old. However, if the younger person (the alleged victim) is at least 14 years old and the older party is three years or less older than the alleged victim, consent may not be strictly enforced. The age-of-consent laws are gender-neutral and apply to both heterosexual and homosexual conduct.
A person cannot give legal consent in the following situations:
Depending on the victim’s age and the crime, fines of up to $10,000 may be levied. If convicted, an individual could receive a prison sentence of anywhere from two to 99 years or life. The convicted person may be required to register as a sex offender once released from prison.
Aggravated sexual assault is the commission of sexual assault along with one or more of the following acts:
The difference between aggravated sexual assault from sexual assault is that serious bodily injury, death, or threats of either are made during the commission of the offense.
A recent change in the law changes the focus to invasive visual recording. If someone is charged with improper photography or visual recording, they have videotaped or photographed another person without that person’s consent. Alternatively, they did it with the intent to “arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”
For example, if an individual broadcasts or transmits video from a restroom or private dressing room, it could result in a charge of improper visual recording if the images invaded another’s privacy, or those images were used to arouse and gratify sexual desire.
Other ways to be charged include:
Posting a warning sign that videotaping is taking place is not enough to provide consent. The individual must give verbal consent to having images taken.
More about invasive visual recording from the blog:
While these charges may sound similar, they apply to very different behaviors.
Indecent exposure is the intentional display of an individual’s genitals or buttocks to others for the sexual gratification of either party. It includes the practice of exposing the buttocks as a prank or sign of disrespect, also known as “mooning.” Other examples are:
Public lewdness refers to engaging in sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or sexual activity with an animal in a public place. Someone who performs any of these acts with reckless disregard for others who might witness them and be offended, even when not in a public place, can also be charged with public lewdness.
More about indecent exposure and public lewdness:
Like most things, sex crimes can occur online and are prosecutable offenses. Online sex crimes include:
A mashup of sex and texting, sexting is included in Texas sex crime laws. Sexting involves distributing sexually explicit or nude images or suggestive text messages in email, text, or chat programs using a mobile or cellular device.
An individual can be charged with sexting even if the person in the images previously consented to the capture of those images or took the pictures themselves. The intent was to maintain privacy between the sender and the recipient.
If someone posts the image to social media or elsewhere on the internet or shares the images via email or text with others without prior consent, the sharing can be charged as a sex crime.
The penalties for sexting are less severe for minors, potentially a Class C or B misdemeanor. Adults engaging in sexting can be charged with a felony.
Prostitution is legally defined as knowingly either:
Charges can include both prostitution and solicitation. A person can be charged with prostitution whether they pay or receive the fee.
Prostitution charges include pimping (procurement) and entrapment.
Pimping is the promotion of prostitution by receiving money or property with an “agreement” to participate in the proceeds of prostitution. It can also be soliciting an individual to engage in sex with someone else in exchange for something of value.
Aggravated promotion of prostitution is when someone knowingly “owns, invests in, finances, controls, supervises, or manages a prostitution enterprise that uses two or more prostitutes.”
Entrapment occurs whenever someone is induced by law enforcement to engage in the act of prostitution or other sexual criminal conduct. The inducement can come in the form of persuasion or other means that are likely to cause that individual to commit the offense.
It is not entrapment, however, to provide an opportunity to commit a crime.
More about prostitution:
Why would someone accuse an individual of a sex crime when it didn’t happen? It turns out there are a lot of reasons and plenty of consequences for the accused before the lie is exposed.
Motivations range from revenge, mistaken identity, and extortion to personal disputes, attempts to sway a court about child custody and visitation. It also includes the perception of a mentally or emotionally disturbed individual believing another wronged them.
Children or teens may be rebelling against their parents or a teacher’s authority.
False allegations of sex crimes can be extremely damaging to the accused, with consequences like.
If you are not defended against these claims, you can be forced to register as a sex offender, limiting your occupational choices. You can be barred from entering the military, voting, or owning a firearm. A false allegation of a sex crime can undoubtedly make it hard to form new relationships.
Beyond false allegations of sexual assault, people also make false accusations of pimping. In Texas, it’s a criminal violation to promote or profit from the services of a prostitute.
Pimping is a Class A misdemeanor that carries a jail sentence of up to a year and fines as high as $4,000. An aggravated charge pushes the charge to a third-degree felony with a sentence of up to 10 years and fines up to $10,000. Compelling prostitution increases the prison sentence to 20 years.
The services of an attorney experienced in false allegations of sex crimes can help you fight the allegations in court. In the meantime, take immediate steps to protect your reputation and freedom. Gather and secure physical evidence related to the investigation and collect computer files, documents, and other records. Make a comprehensive list of any evidence not in your possession, and make a list of witnesses who know about the incident or others involved in the case.
Texas does not have a specific statute regarding date rape. Any charges are classified as crimes of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault.
Date rape is defined as a non-consensual encounter with a friend or acquaintance against their will. It does not need to involve an actual date. It simply means the victim has a relationship with the perpetrator.
Failure to report sexual or aggravated sexual assault is considered a crime, too. Texas law requires anyone with knowledge about any crime causing death or bodily injury to report it to the legal authorities. Any failure to report promptly could result in a Class A misdemeanor conviction.
People classified as mandated reporters include teachers, parents, social workers, therapists, and school administrators.
Sex crimes come with severe penalties, especially those crimes involving minors.
An individual can be required to pay a fine or register as a sex offender if convicted of a sexual crime.
Being accused of a sexual crime can damage a reputation, regardless of whether it is true. Unfortunately, there are several motivations for someone to claim sexual assault or molestation. In these cases, you need an experienced sex crime attorney.
Once a person is under investigation for accusations of assault, the police are notified, especially if it involves a minor.
The police perform a thorough investigation beginning with a report by the child’s parents or the outcry witness. They will search for corroborative evidence to justify a sex crime charge.
A forensic interviewer from Child Protective Services (CPS) interviews the child. A medical examiner from a child advocacy center or other medical facility examines the child.
A medical exam may not yield physical evidence. Still, the exam could leak to statements by the victim that can be used in court. Likewise, the interviews conducted by CPS are admissible as evidence.
More about sex crime defense, investigation, and penalties:
If a person is convicted of a sex crime, he or she will be forced to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registry. The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains the registry. For the registry, a person will be required to provide their full legal name, current address, type of offense, employment information and numerous other types of identifying information. The registry is open to the public for anybody to see that you are a sex offender. The public will be able to see photos, home addresses and detailed descriptions of the crime. Failing to register as a sex offender is a felony. In addition, the offender must continue to update the registry with current information.
A person who is listed in the Sex Offender Registration will also have serious restrictions placed upon them regarding employment and where they may live. These restrictions will make it more difficult to find employment and a suitable place to live. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to explain the registry and its requirements.
Sex crimes against minors are considered to be more serious than those against adults. Often, they come with more severe penalties.
To be clear, the state of Texas makes it a crime to be involved in any kind of sexual activity with a child. A child is anyone under 18. The same laws cover teenagers as younger children and toddlers.
In Texas, a sexual assault of a minor means any act that could affect a child’s emotional, physical, or psychological well-being. Needless to say, the court of public opinion tends to be particularly harsh on these charges.
Child sex crimes have specific evidence and procedural rules unique to them. While various sex crime charges can be made, three tend to be the most common in the sexual abuse of a child.
Police or the court can include related charges of child abuse or continuous sexual abuse of a child or young children.
Continuous sexual abuse includes:
The penalties depend on the charge. Fines can reach $10,000 if convicted, and the individual can receive from two to 20 years in prison. Aggravated sexual assault is a felony that nets five to 99 years in prison. Some cases carry a life sentence.
Upon conviction, the individual is required to register as a sex offender, sometimes for life.
Statutory rape may also be charged if the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated, regardless of age. Rape includes:
Statutory rape laws include aggravated statutory rape, sexual assault, and indecency with a child.
Aggravated statutory rape is considered penetrative sex between a victim under 14 years old regardless of the perpetrator’s age.
Sexual assault is penetrative sex between a victim that is 17 or younger and a person who is three or more years older than the minor.
Indecency with a child means non-penetrative sexual activity between someone 17 or younger and an individual who is three or more years older than the child.
Molestation typically refers to sexual contact or relations with a child who has not reached puberty. It includes any sexual act, conduct, or indecent act intended to satisfy or arouse sexual desires in the adult or child.
Molestation can include lewd and lascivious intent and is generally considered more serious than statutory rape. Molestation includes:
Sexual abuse of a child is an act of inappropriate touching or exploitation of a child, even without touching. Sexual abuse tends to occur over a prolonged period during which the child is physically penetrated.
Child pornography is both a state and a federal offense. According to the Department of Justice, images of child pornography are not protected under the First Amendment. They are considered illegal contraband under federal law.
It is a crime to possess any visual image depicting a person under age 18 taking part in sexual activity or promoting, sharing, distributing, or advertising such visual depictions.
Federal sex crimes involving child pornography include:
As you can see, the U.S. and Texas take child pornography exceptionally seriously.
Educators occupy a trusted position of power and control in the life of a student. That position is why legislation against an improper relationship is codified in Texas law.
First and foremost, all forms of sexual conduct and intercourse between an educator and the student are considered improper. Authorities can make the charge even when a student is 18 years old, unlike other child sex crimes.
Any employee, whether a teacher at a public or private elementary, middle, or high school who engages in sexual contact with a student enrolled at the school or school district where the employee works can be accused of an improper relationship with that student.
The only exception is if the educator and student are married to each other.
More about improper relationships between educators and students:
Texas defines indecency with a child as a person engaging in sexual contact with anyone under 17. It includes exposing oneself to a child, forcing a child to expose themselves, or causing a child to engage in sexual contact.
Indecency with a child includes:
Penalties include imprisonment, anger management classes, and community service.
The internet changed everything, including the ease with which an individual can contact a minor for sexual gratification.
The sexual act need not take place. The prosecution only needs to prove intent.
Solicitation is legally defined as knowingly or with intent attempting to induce a minor to engage in specific conduct that, under the circumstances, as the perpetrator believes them to be, would either constitute an offense or make the minor party to the commission of the offense under sex crimes statutes.
Going online to do so is still illegal. A solicitation charge can result from indecency with a child, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual performance by a child.
Internet solicitation of a minor means the perpetrator used the internet, email, or any other electronic means of communication to attempt to get a person younger than 17 to engage in sexual conversations or activity.
It includes the person knowingly attempting to meet with a minor for sexual activity or performance. It also consists of any type of explicit sexual language or exchanging sexually explicit images.
In Texas, it is illegal for any adult to engage in any type of electronic communication about sexual matters with someone who claims to be or is believed by the adult to be less than 17 years old.
False allegations of child abuse can be some of the most damaging lies told about someone. As a bulwark against false allegations, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a sex crime was committed.
False allegations originate from:
You need to deal with false allegations quickly and intelligently. Call a lawyer experienced in false allegations of child abuse as soon as you learn of them.
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Houston criminal defense lawyer Brett A. Podolsky is a former prosecutor for the State of Texas. He uses his years of criminal trial experience and knowledge of the criminal laws to advise and defend people.