4 Categories of Sex Offenses
There are 4 broad categories of sex offenses in Houston, Texas: sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, indecency with a child, and child pornography.
1) Sexual Assault
Texas laws state clearly that sexual assault shall include any incident of unwanted sexual contact, even where penetration does not occur. Basically, the lack of consent is enough proof of sexual assault. So, force does not have to be used.
Examples of situations where an incident may qualify as sexual assault even when force was not used include:
- Where a date-rape drug was administered
- Where the victim is a minor aged 17 years or under
- If a mental health counselor provides proof of a victim’s vulnerability
- If the victim is mentally challenged and the offender is aware of the condition
- Cases where the offender is a public servant who uses their position to persuade the victim
Persons convicted of sexual assault in Houston, Texas may face a lengthy jail term and are usually forced to register as sex offenders.
Sexual assault charges attract second degree felony charges resulting in 2 to 20 years in jail and/or a fine of $10,000. In most cases, offenders are also forced to pay restitution to the victim and may be have to attend mandatory sex offender classes.
These penalties can significantly impact on the life of the offender. With your name on the Houston, Texas sex offenders register, you image in the society is irreparably damaged. And even after you complete your sentence, your right to housing and employment may be affected. You need a strong criminal lawyer to mitigate the potential damages.
2) Aggravated Sexual Assault
According to the Texas Penal Code, “aggravated sexual assault” refers to sexual assault that occurs under special circumstances. These “special circumstances” may include cases in which the accused:
- Threatens to kill, injure, or kidnap another person
- Uses or brandishes a harmful weapon such as a knife or a gun
- Causes the victim to fear that another person will be kidnapped, injured or killed
- Attempts to cause the death of or causes serious bodily harm to the victim or somebody else
- The victim is a minor aged 14 years or under, is 65 years or over or is disabled
Aggravated sexual assault charges attract first degree felony charges that can result in between 5 to 99 years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. Under special circumstances as determined by the court, an aggravated sexual assault can end in a life sentence.
Just as with other sex offenders in Texas, those convicted are required to register as sex offenders. Offenders can be subjected to severe restrictions regarding places where they can live and offices they can hold.
3) Indecency with a Child
In Houston, the law defines two possible charges in regards to indecency with a child:
- Indecency by exposure
- Indecency by contact
Indecency by Exposure Is When You:
- Expose your anus or genitals in the presence of a minor aged 17 years or under
- Cause a minor aged 17 years or under to expose their anus or genitals for purposes of arousal or sexual gratification
Indecency by Contact Is When You:
- Touch the anus, breast or genitals of a minor aged 17 years or under
- Touch a minor aged 17 years or under with your anus, genitals or breast
Indecency with a child is a serious offense in Houston, Texas. Both charges (indecency by exposure and indecency by contact) can attract severe penalties, typically 2 to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The two charges may be made separately or as one. Indecency with a child is considered a third degree felony offense.
4) Child Pornography
Child pornography is another very serious offense in Texas. Unfortunately for the offender, child pornography doesn’t just come with court cases. Before you even face trial, you may have to deal with mental torture and image damage as the media publishes everything wrong about you. This can negatively impact of your life and your relationships with family, friends and business associates or work colleagues.
In Texas, child pornography refers to a case where one knowingly or intentionally produces or distributes material that depicts a minor aged 18 years or under participating in sexual activity.
Child pornography is considered a second degree felony conviction in Houston and can attract a jail term of between 2 to 20 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Offenders are also required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
Registering as a sex offender not only bars you from holding particular offices in society but can undermine your rights to employment and proper housing.
No one supports sexual offenses. However, it is not always the case that the accused is indeed guilty. Furthermore, even where one is convicted, that person MUST be protected by the same law that protects the rest of the community.
You will need a strong criminal lawyer to argue your case. Where possible find a local lawyer who is familiar with the Texas laws regarding sexual offenses.
It is also advisable to join a support group to educate yourself on how to deal with the outcome of the case and get over the emotional pain.
*Image courtesy of arileu