Age of Consent
In Texas, the age of consent for sexual activity is 17. The law considers children ages 16 and under to be incapable of consenting to sex because they are not mature enough mentally to make that decision. As such, an individual could be charged with statutory rape after having sex with a minor younger than age 17 who is not his or her spouse. If the youngest individual is 17 years old, then the age difference between the two must not be more than 3 years.
The exception is someone who is less than three years older than the victim at the time the act occurred. For example, an 18-year-old male would not be charged with statutory rape for having consensual sex with a 16-year-old female.
Age is not the only thing courts look at when determining whether or not there was consent. There may also be other factors present that would make it impossible for an individual to consent to sex. A few instances where the law believes consent cannot be granted are:
- Whenever the victim has a mentally disability that makes it impossible for that person to understand what he or she is consenting to
- Instances in which the victim is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Whenever the victim is under extreme duress
- Occasions where the perpetrator has threatened the victim with physical harm
Criminal Charges for Lack of Consent
It’s important to note that if any of the above conditions are present, a person could be charged with a crime regardless of the other party’s age. A few of the possible charges are:
Possible Criminal Penalties
Failing to obtain consent before having intercourse typically results in felony charges that could be punishable by:
- Up to 99 years in a Texas penal institution
- Mandatory restitution to the victim
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Lifetime sex offender registry
- Loss of professional license
- Sex offender counseling and rehabilitation
Those charged as sex offenders will suffer additional consequences, as they will be greatly restricted as to where they may live and work, and may find building social relationships is difficult to do as well.
Factors That Increase Punishment
The punishment is even more harsh for repeat offenders, especially those who have already been ordered to register as a sex offender. Other things that can affect how harsh a sentence is include:
- The amount of physical harm done to the victim
- Age of the victim
- Whether or not the act was performed during the commission of another criminal offense such as robbery or kidnapping
Section 21 of the Texas Penal Codes provides for a number of affirmative offenses that may be used in cases involving a lack of consent. A few of these affirmative defenses are:
- Being no more than three years older than the victim and a member of the opposite sex (for offenses involving minors)
- No duress, force or threats were used during the commission of the act
- The accused was not required to register for life as a sex offender
- The victim and the defendant were husband and wife
Seek Qualified Counsel
Criminal charges involving consent require a vigorous defense, since district attorneys in these types of cases want to be seen as heroes and tend to prosecute them very aggressively. If you’re accused of one of these crimes, you should seek assistance from an experienced defense attorney who will adequately prepare you for the battle for your freedom that is to come. Just call 713-277-0087 to schedule your free case evaluation.