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Is There a Difference Between Rape and Sexual Battery?

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Rape and Sexual Battery Crimes in Texas

Few crimes cause as much as outrage as rape and sexual assault in Texas. These crimes are scorned, both in the media and in the court system. The legal punishments for crimes of a sexual nature in Texas are both severe and thorough. Being convicted of a sexually-based offense can quickly lead to decades of imprisonment and lifelong sex offender registration.

As part of the prosecution process, sexual crimes are separated into distinct categories. Illegal sexual actions that are perceived as more dangerous or damaging will warrant more serious punishments. Two of the most serious sexually-based offenses include sexual battery and rape.

Difference Between Sexual Battery and Rape

In most legal systems, including the Texas justice system, rape is defined as an illegal action which includes:

  • Sexual penetration of another person without that person’s consent
  • Sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent

In short, any type of sexual penetration that is performed in a non-consensual manner may be considered rape. In Texas, these illegal actions are classified as sexual assault under chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code.

Another sexually-based offense is known as sexual battery. This legal term refers to a type of sexual assault that does not include penetration. For example, sexual battery may refer to groping, touching or fondling another person in a sexual manner without that person’s consent. Even if these actions don’t rise to the level of sexual assault, they are still highly illegal and may be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

In some jurisdictions, the terms rape, sexual assault and sexual battery are used interchangeably. Although rape and sexual battery have distinct legal definitions, they may be used in some cases to refer to the same act: engaging in sexual penetration with another person without that person’s consent.

In Texas, a person can be charged with felony sexual assault if they cause the sexual organ of any person to contact the mouth, anus or sexual organ of another person, including themselves. This means that a person who engages in non-consensual sexual contact can be charged with sexual assault even if no penetration occurs. A crime that would be considered sexual battery in some other states can be considered a felony sexual assault charge in Texas.

Legal Penalties

Section 22 of the Texas Penal Code proscribes harsh punishments for anyone who is convicted of sexual assault. Under the law, this crime is a felony of the second degree. This means that it can be punished by:

  • Incarceration in a Texas state prison for two years or up to 20 years
  • A fine of $10,000
  • A lifelong mandatory registration as a sex offender

Legal Defenses

In many cases, proving accusations of sexual assault can be difficult. It often comes down to the word of the alleged victim against the word of the defendant. While DNA evidence is sometimes used, it is not always possible to find this kind of evidence.

In cases like these, the issue of consent is often the pivotal factor in the case. For this reason, defense attorneys will often focus their efforts on this issue. They may argue that the defendant and the alleged victim did actually engage in sex but that the act was consensual. They may point to a lack of resistance on the part of the victim or the fact that both parties were sober at the time.

They may also try to point to signs that the alleged victim was motivated to slander the defendant for purposes of revenge. If any of these strategies are successful, the charges against the defendant may be lowered or reversed.


If you are being charged with a sex crime, a strong legal defense is crucial. Attorney Brett A. Podolsky has the experience needed to help you. Contact his office today at (713) 227-0087.

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