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

What Is Acquaintance Rape? Is It Prosecuted Differently?

Posted on by

Acquaintance Rape Laws in Texas

In the state of Texas, the crime of rape is legally known as sexual assault. A person who engages in any type of sexual contact or intercourse with another person without that person’s consent may be charged with sexual assault. It is also a crime to engage in sexual intercourse with a person who legally cannot give consent. This includes people who are unconscious, mentally incapable of understanding sexual activity or minors below the age of consent.

Although some people may believe that sexual assault crimes are often perpetrated by strangers, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, in many cases, a person may be sexually assaulted by someone that they know and trust. Known as acquaintance rape, this is a very serious type of sexual assault.

Is Acquaintance Rape Different from Sexual Assault?

The Texas Penal Code spells out the definition of sexual assault clearly. Specifically, it defines rape as sexual contact which is initiated or carried out by one person against another person who does not or cannot give consent to the activity. Under the law, there are no considerations for the circumstances under which the assault occurs, except for the main issue of a sexual assault charge: a lack of consent.

This is important for cases of acquaintance rape. Acquaintance rape is a type of sexual assault in which the victim knows his or her assailant. A very high number of reported rapes involve victims who know their attacker personally. Acquaintance rape may occur in a variety of circumstances, including:

  • A date with a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • A social gathering with friends
  • A school or college event
  • A concert or festival
  • A meeting with a friend

Acquaintance rape, also known as “date rape“, is not distinct from sexual assault under Texas law. The law makes no mention of social situations, dating relationships or community gatherings. Under the law, initiating or carrying out sexual intercourse with a non-consenting person is a crime.

However, cases of acquaintance rape may be prosecuted differently when compared to other cases.

Acquaintance Rape Prosecution

Although there is no legal distinction between sexual assault and acquaintance rape, the fact remains that acquaintance rape cases may be prosecuted differently than cases of stranger rape.

This is due, in part, to some common tactics used by the defense in cases of acquaintance rape. The central issue in any rape case is the lack or presence of consent. If consent was not given or if it could not be given, then a crime has been committed. In cases of alleged sexual assault involving people who knew each other, the defense may claim:

  • The sex was consensual and the alleged victim is seeking revenge
  • The sex was consensual and the alleged victim changed his or her mind after the fact
  • The alleged victim and assailant exchanged messages agreeing to sex
  • The alleged victim and assailant were in a loving, committed relationship

Although none of these facts can exclusively disprove sexual assault in any case, they may be used by the defense to portray the defendant as the victim of a wrongful accusation. This is very different from cases of stranger rape, where evidence shows that the consent of the victim is not in question.

Legal Penalties for Acquaintance Rape

Since there is no legal distinction between acquaintance rape and sexual assault, these two charges will be prosecuted under the same criminal charge. Although the prosecution and defense may use different legal strategies and evidence depending upon the circumstances of the case, the legal punishment for sexual assault remains the same.

In Texas, sexual assault is a second degree felony, punishable by:

  • Two to 20 years in Texas state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Possible mandatory registration as a sex offender

Sexual assault with the use of a deadly weapon or which results in severe bodily harm may be prosecuted as aggravated sexual assault. This is a first degree felony and is punishable by up to 99 years in Texas state prison.

Legal Considerations

The fact is that acquaintance rape is sexual assault and it is a very serious crime. A person who is convicted of this offense can face very severe punishments. A person who is charged with this crime needs to hire an attorney to construct a legal defense as soon as possible.

If the defense attorney can use evidence from the case to prove that consent for sexual intercourse was given, the charges may be dropped or reduced to a less serious offense.


If you or someone you know has been charged with any form of sexual assault, you should contact a lawyer for legal defense. Attorney Brett A. Podolsky has the experience needed to help. Contact his office today at 713-227-0087.

Discuss your case

Enter code below: captcha

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