Top 10 Blog PostsHarris County Criminal Lawyers AssociationBoard Certified Texas Board of Legal SpecializationThe college of the State Bar of Texas - Professionalism Through EducationAmerican Bar Association - Defending Liberty Pursuing JusticeNational Association of Criminal Defense LawyersCNNClick 2 HoustonABC 13Avvo choice awardsAvvo choice awards 2018

Penalties for Sexual Assault of a Child in Harris County, Texas

Posted on by

Being charged with sexual assault of a child is a serious crime in Harris County, Texas. Navigating the waters of the justice system is challenging and if convicted, you face penalties that can change your life forever. Whether you’re innocent or not, a skilled criminal defense attorney in Texas can guide you through your arrest, charges and trial. Even if it’s not possible for him to get you off, he can help minimize the sentence you receive as well as the damage to your reputation and future.

Here’s some of the information you’ll need to know if you or a loved one is at risk of being convicted for this type of crime.

Defining Sexual Assault of a Child

Sexual AssaultAs with most sex crimes involving children, sexual assault of a child has multiple variations to it. The basic charge, however, is filed when you intentionally or knowingly have penetrative sex with the mouth, anus or genitals of a child under the age of 17 years. It also applies to oral contact with the child’s anus or genitals, or between the child’s mouth and another person’s anus or genitals.

The assault becomes aggravated when it involves a child under 14 years, or results in bodily injury or death for the victim. Other sex crime charges involving children that are slightly less serious include:

These are by no means the only charges that can be filed against you, but they are the most common.

Potential Penalties

The penalty handed down by the court depends on three things:

  1. The severity of the charges against you
  2. The amount of evidence available to prove the case
  3. The ability of your Texas criminal defense lawyer to protect you

When it comes to severity of the charges, sexual assault is a second-degree felony, which typically carries penalties such as:

  • a state prison term of up to 20 years
  • a fine, which could be as much as $10,000

Aggravated sexual assault, however, is a first-degree felony, which carries punishment such as 25 years in prison without parole and registration in the National Sex Offenders database. For repeat offenders, the term is a minimum of 25 years.

Then there’s “Ashley’s Laws,” which allow for a defendant with any former felony child sex conviction to be sentenced in terms of a “two strikes” provision for the law. These laws also apply to first-time offenders, and required you to serve at least half of your sentence before getting parole. Most usually end up serving 80%.

Possible Defenses

Just because you’re charged doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted, though. Regardless of the amount of sympathy the victim has, you’re innocent until proven guilty. Having a qualified criminal defense attorney in Texas can make a huge difference to both your conviction and sentencing.

Some of the defenses your lawyer might be able to use to reduce your liability in the case are:

  • Having the consent of the victim
  • Lack of intent to commit sexual assault of a child
  • Lack of knowledge that you were committing a crime
  • Mistaken identity, either your own or the victim’s
  • Having an alibi for the time the sexual assault was committed
  • Being under duress (forced) or coerced by another person to commit sexual assault of a child
  • Insanity, which means not of right mind when you committed the assault

There are also certain age-related defenses that your criminal defense lawyer in Texas might use. One is if you were the married spouse of the child victim at the time of the sexual activity, because Texas law states that sexual activity between spouses is acceptable. This doesn’t mean rape of a spouse is acceptable, but the existence of a marital relationship between the defendant and the victim muddies the waters somewhat. This can enable a skilled attorney to argue that you aren’t guilty of the charge brought against you and perhaps get the charges reduced—or at least a lower punishment.

Another age-related defense that can help to provide mitigating circumstances and maybe lower the penalties is if the defendant was not more than three years older than the child at the time of the offense. For example, sexual activity between two teenagers of 16 and 18 years is likely not to receive a conviction for sexual assault of a child.

Finally, if the purpose of contact was for medical care and there was no penetration of the child’s anus or genitals, it’s unlikely to result in a conviction under this category.

If you or someone in your family is charged with sexual assault of a child, it’s important to get a qualified criminal defense attorney in Texas on your side to ensure the lightest possible penalty.

*Image courtesy of Tim (Timothy) Pearce

Discuss your case

FREE EBOOK

Download Our Free Ebook Today

The New, Free Ebook From the Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky
Address

Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky
917 Franklin St. Ste 510
Houston, TX 77002