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Sexual Assault in Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety reports that in a recent 12-month period, a total of 18,088 incidents of sexual assault were committed against 19,011 victims. Nationally, it is estimated that someone will become the victim of a sexual assault every two minutes.

With so much emphasis placed on protecting the victims of sex offenses, it is easy to forget that the nature of the crime lends itself to allegations supported only by the victim’s testimony. For someone accused of committing a sexual assault, defending against the charges can be a difficult task. That’s why it is so important to have a basic understanding of how the criminal laws, penalties and defenses work in the event you or a family member are ever accused of this kind of crime.

Definition of Sexual Assault

Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code describes in detail the different acts that can be considered forms of sexual assault. Simply put, the law tries to prevent and punish any intentional sexual contact in which penetration occurs without the consent of the victim.

Even in situations in which a victim willingly participates or does not resist, prosecutors can still win a conviction by showing threats of violence by the offender or proof that the victim was incapable of giving consent by reason of age or mental disease or defect.

No Consent According to Texas Penal Code

There are several instances where prosecutors can argue a victim did not consent to a sexual act. Some examples include:

Types of Sexual Assault Crimes in Texas

The law defines sexual assault in terms that include commonly recognized acts, such as rape, in which penetration is an element of the crime. It also offers a broad enough definition to include sexual contact crimes, such as touching another person in a sexual manner without penetration.
Examples of various crimes involving sexual assault in Texas include:

Aggravated Sexual Assault

A sexual assault crime may be charged under the more serious offense of aggravated sexual assault when one or more of the following acts have occurred:

To obtain a conviction for aggravated sexual assault, prosecutors must also prove that the accused performed at least one of the following acts:

Difference between Sexual Assaults and Sexual Offenses

Chapter 22 of the state penal code was created to prohibit and punish sexual conduct involving violence. The law was eventually updated to change rape from a crime that could only be committed by a male offender to one that is gender-neutral. As a result, a woman may now be charged with sexual assault, when she would previously have been charged with rape.

Chapter 21 of the penal code treats non-assaultive or non-violent sexual offenses, such as taking pictures of another person without consent for the purpose of the photographer’s sexual gratification, as sexual offenses.

Other sexual offenses include:

The primary difference between sexual offenses and assaultive sexual conduct is the element of violence or force present in the assaultive crimes.

Penalties for Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault

The state of Texas views sexual assault crimes so seriously that at one time, judges could sentence convicted offenders to death. Though capital punishment is no longer used for sexual assault cases, today’s laws are still harsh enough to punish convicted criminals and deter potential offenders.

The punishment that courts may impose depends upon the category of the sexual assault crime. Generally speaking, the offense and penalties are as follows:

Available Defenses in Sexual Assault Cases

People convicted of committing a sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault have a lot to lose. Between the penalties imposed by the courts and the public humiliation and scorn associated with these allegations, an aggressive defense is important in these cases. Some of the sex crime defenses recognized under Texas law include:

It can be difficult to defend against sexual assault charges. For example, a statutory rape charge in which prosecutors prove that a person engaged in sexual relations with an underage victim does not lend itself to a consent defense. Under the law, an underage victim is not capable of consenting to sexual relations.

Brett Podolsky | Texas Sexual Assault Attorney

The sexual assault laws in Texas involve complex issues of law and evidence, and it is possible to be convicted based on allegations alone. This means that if you are facing criminal sexual assault charges, it is essential to consult with an attorney whose knowledge of the law and courtroom experience will compare favorably with the prosecution. Brett Podolsky understands how the stigma of a sex offense accusation can affect you and your family. For experience and unbiased representation, contact the Law Office Brett A. Podolsky at 713-227-0087.

 

Resources

Texas Department of Public Safety: The TXDPS reports on records of sex crimes. They can provide you with more data on sex crime incidents in Texas

Texas Penal Code: Texas laws can be confusing at times. If best way to avoid being prosecuted is to understand the penal code

Texas Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry: Learn about sex offenders living around you by searching the official database

Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas: The TXDPS joined in this partnership to provide information on fingerprinting locations and requirements

Public Record Center Search: Discover public information regarding background searches and crime history

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