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Date Rape, Pt. 2: Legal Defense and Possible Penalties

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Defending Against Charges of Date Rape

Being charged with sexual assault in Texas is incredibly serious. A conviction for this offense can result in lengthy jail time and mandatory registration on the Texas sex offender database. The best way to defend against these charges in court is to consult with an experienced defense attorney.

When it comes to cases of date rape, the prosecution can rely on both physical evidence and witness testimony. It’s important to remember that the prosecution has the burden of proof in these cases. This means that they are responsible for showing that the defendant is guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defense can introduce compelling evidence and counterarguments to the prosecution’s case, the charges may be reduced or dropped.

Legal Defenses

In many sexual assault cases, the primary issue of concern is the issue of consent. This is because consent is what separates a willing sexual encounter from a crime. If one party did not give consent to the sexual activity and the prosecution can prove this, a conviction may be reached. Under Texas law, consent has not been given if:

  • One party refuses the sexual encounter
  • One party is unconscious
  • One party does not understand or is not aware that sex is occurring
  • One party is under the effects of a drug that renders them incapable of understanding the act
  • One party is mentally incapable of understanding the act
  • One of the parties is a minor

The presence of consent is not always clear in every case. For example, many people willingly engage in sex without verbally or formally giving consent. For this reason, especially in date rape cases, the defense might argue that consent was actually given or that there is insufficient evidence to prove it was not given.

This defense strategy can take several forms:

  • Consent Was Given

With this strategy, the defense can argue that consent was actually given for the sexual act in question. In cases involving date rape, the defense might point out the fact that the defendant and alleged victim were in a committed relationship with no history of sexual assault or violence. They may also show text messages or emails from both parties to portray them as a happy, loving couple.

Alternatively, the defense may argue that there is not enough evidence that an assault occurred. The defendant might admit that sex occurred but the attorney could claim that the prosecution has no concrete evidence to support their claims, other than the testimony of the alleged victim.

  • The Incident Did Not Occur

The defense may also claim that the alleged sexual encounter never actually took place. If no physical evidence was recorded or collected at the time of the incident, the defense may argue that the sexual encounter never actually occurred as the plaintiff claims. Alternatively, they may argue that the prosecution has nothing more than testimony to allege that the assault occurred as described.

While it is possible for the defense to try and portray the plaintiff as promiscuous or vengeful, this strategy may not sit well with a jury. It may be a better strategy to portray the defendant as an innocent person who can’t be convicted based on the amount of evidence involved in the case.

Protection for Defendants

At this point, it should be apparent that sexual assault cases often rely heavily on testimony. Whether it is the statements of the alleged victim, eyewitnesses or otherwise, testimony is sometimes the most compelling evidence in these cases.

For defendants, this means that extreme caution should be used at all times when speaking about the case. There are a few steps to take for defendants who wish to avoid potentially hurting their chances at a fair trial:

  • Do not discuss the case with anyone other than a lawyer who has been hired
  • Do not, under any circumstances, try to contact the alleged victim
  • Do not share information about the case with friends, family or neighbors
  • Do not post about the case on social media or anywhere online

Hiring a lawyer is an essential step for a good legal defense. A qualified defense attorney can be the connection between a defendant and the rest of the world. If the police want to question the defendant, the lawyer can arrange the meeting and be present to provide counsel. A lawyer can also arrange all of the important paperwork and court dates.

If it is necessary to contact the plaintiff or their family, the lawyer can arrange that so that there is no communication between the defendant and the alleged victim.

Anything that the defendant says about the case, in person or online, could be used by the prosecution to portray the defendant as abusive, violent or dangerous. It is always best to keep all such communication strictly between the defendant and their lawyer.

Possible Legal Penalties

Even being charged with sexual assault can seriously damage a person’s reputation, career and future. However, the legal penalties may be even worse. In Texas, a conviction for a sexual assault charge is a second degree felony. This is punishable by:

  • Confinement in the Texas prison system for two or up to 20 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Registration on the Texas sex offender database

These charges can be enhanced if the prosecution can prove that the defendant used violence, weapons, drugs or threats in order to carry out an assault. The offense could be upgraded to aggravated sexual assault, a first degree felony. This crime is punishable by:

  • Five to 99 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Registration on the Texas sex offender database

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