Sentence Enhancements for Habitual Sexual Offenders
According to Texas Penal Code 21.01, a sexual offense can range from inappropriate touching of a minor to sexual assault carried out during the course of a burglary. First-time offenders convicted of such crimes face punishments that could involve paying fines of $10,000 or more to spending as much as 20 years in jail.
However, Texas, like most other states, has the leeway of using sentence enhancements for people who have more than one criminal conviction on their records. Sentence enhancements permit the judge to increase the penalties if your sexual offense meets certain standards. Some of the criteria that could result in these enhancements being used include:
- Having more than one sexual offense conviction on your record
- Harming or endangering a child while carrying out your offense
- The age of the victim
- Using a gun or weapon during the crime
- Committing the offense near a school or public playground
If any of these criteria apply to you or the crime that you are being accused of, you could face additional jail time beyond what is normally recommended for such a conviction. In fact, sentence enhancements for repeat offenders are intended to:
- Protect the public’s safety
- Ensure that the punishment fits the crime
- Discourage you from reengaging in criminal activity altogether
Given its duty to keep its citizens safe, Texas will use this reasoning to give out harsher punishments for people who repeatedly commit sexual crimes.
Texas Three-Strikes Law
Like Oregon, California, and many other states, Texas has its own three-strikes law. This law is designed to inflict the fullest penalty allowable under state law on people who have two prior felonies on their records.
Unlike California’s early version, however, Texas reserves this law for convicted individuals who are judged to pose the most significant risk to the public’s well-being. For example, petty thieves, small-time drug dealers, and those who engage in misdemeanor crimes are not usually subjected to this mandate. However, if you commit a sexual offense, you could face the three-strikes law if you have prior felonies convictions on your record for crimes like:
Any of these crimes, as well as sexual offenses like rape or child molestation, makes you a candidate for three-strikes sentencing. If you are found guilty of a third felony, you could face as much as 25 years to life in prison.
Defense Strategies for Sentence Enhancements and Third-Strike Law
Despite having leeway to impose sentence enhancements or using the third-strike law in court, judges also can use discretion when handing down punishment if you are found guilty. You should speak with your attorney about avoiding the severest penalties in court if:
- It was your co-defendant and not you who brandished a weapon during the sexual offense
- Your co-defendant has prior felonies, but you do not
- You are afraid of more than one sentence enhancement being used against you at sentencing
Your attorney can advocate for you in court for any of these scenarios. This counsel could spare you from spending the rest of your life in jail.
The justice judges are known for imposing harsher sentences for repeat offenders. You can contribute to your own defense and understand what you may face by learning about the state’s sentencing standards for habitual sexual offenders.
Anyone who has been arrested for a habitual sex crime needs to hire an experienced Houston lawyer to reduce their penalty. Hire a sex attorney today by calling 713-227-0087.