Sex Crimes and Sex Offenders in Harris County
A sex crime may involve no physical contact at all, as in Internet crimes, or unwanted sexual touch. Sex crimes are quite common in Harris County and throughout the United States:
- Approximately 1:5 girls and 1:7 boys experience sexual abuse by the time they’ve reached the age of majority.
- One of every six adult females and one out of 33 adult males have either experienced or attempted actual sexual assault.
- It’s estimated that sexual crimes represent less than one percent of arrests. Approximately 80 percent of arrests involve adults.
- 95 percent of those charged are male.
In short, sex offenders may be female or male, old or young, have any level of education, be single or married, have close family and community ties or not, have a criminal record or not.
Local news stories show us that nice people are sometimes accused of unimaginable sex crimes. For instance, a man was arrested after a 12-year-old girl called 911 at 4:00 a.m. The girl claimed that a neighbor was raping her mother after he’d forcibly entered the apartment. The alleged offender ran naked from the woman’s apartment. He lives in the same building with his mother and two children. He was later charged with aggravated sexual assault.
According to the Texas Sexual Assault statute (Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22 [22.011] [22.021]), the prosecutor must prove that the defendant caused serious bodily injury or attempted to kill the victim; placed her/them “in fear of death…injury, or kidnapping”; used or exhibited a deadly weapon; acted with another person in the commission of the crime; used Ketamine or Rohypnol (date rape drugs); the victim is less than 14 years old; or the victim was disabled/elderly:
- Sexual assault is generally a second-degree felony.
- Aggravated sexual assault, however, is a first-degree felony. The accused faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 years (if the victim was less than 14 years old) and a maximum prison sentence of 99 years plus a maximum $10,000 fine.
- If found guilty of aggravated sexual assault, the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender. Registry as a sex offender affects where he or she lives and works.
It’s important to recognize that, even though a story about the arrest appeared in the news, the accused is presumed innocent until found guilty. The alleged offender has the legal right to defend himself and to tell his side of the story in court. Anyone who’s charged with a serious crime needs an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist in navigating the complex criminal justice system in Harris County.
Some news stories in Houston prompt us to think the worst of an individual charged of a sexual offense. For example, a man charged with sexually assaulting 10 child victims. The man was charged with evading arrest and four counts of indecency with a child. The arrested man admitted to one act of sexual assault after he was taken into custody.
This story calls to mind the importance of remaining silent until an experienced criminal attorney is available to interact with the police. A knowledgeable Houston criminal defense attorney will begin to look for mistakes made by law enforcement. If the alleged offender is guilty of multiple sex crimes involving children, he needs an experienced criminal defense attorney now.
If convicted of a sex crime in Houston and Harris County, the offender faces prison and fines according to Chapter 21 of the Texas Penal Code: If found guilty of four counts of indecency with a child, a second-degree offense, the accused faces a minimum 2-year prison term and a maximum 20-year prison term for each charges plus a $10,000 fine for each count.
Another local story reveals that a Houston man was indicated concerning an attempted child sexual assault charge and child pornography charges. The story demonstrates that it’s possible to be accused of sex crimes involving the transfer of images over the Internet.
He was charged with four third-degree felony counts of possession of child pornography and a second-degree felony count of attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child:
- If the defendant is convicted, he faces up to 60 years in a Texas prison.
- The court established bail of $150,000.
Anyone accused of a sex crime in Houston and Harris County is in serious legal trouble. You must reach out to a criminal defense attorney right away to protect your legal rights. It’s easy to see that many people are “convicted” by the press before the case is heard by the judge and jury, so it’s up to you to avail yourself of rights afforded to you by the U.S. Constitution and state laws.
Common Myths about Sex Offenders
Many of us believe common myths about sex offenders. For instance:
- Sexual abuse victim becomes a sexual abuser. The truth is, yes, that can happen, but most people who were victims of a sexual crime don’t become sexual abusers themselves. Victims of sex crimes deserve our sympathy. Again, it’s essential to understand that those accused of sex crimes are alleged offenders.
- Sex offenders never stop offending. This myth isn’t true. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that about 5 percent of imprisoned offenders were later arrested again for another sex offense. When a child was involved, the rates of re-arrest dropped to about three percent. The rate of re-arrest dropped to about two percent when the sexual crime involved two adults. Pedophiles have a higher recidivism rate of about 13 percent. All in, the once-caught recidivism rate, including adult victims, was about 14 percent. The experience of prison seems to positively affect the offender’s behavior. The numbers show that sex offenders have a high likelihood of rehabilitation.
- Sex offenders don’t benefit from treatment. This common myth isn’t borne out by the numbers. A variety of research studies show that treatment reduces recidivism by at least 37 percent. Some studies show even greater reductions.
- Strangers are most likely to prey on children. That’s not true. Most sex crimes involving children are committed by individuals who are known by the child’s family. A sex crime is most likely to be committed by a father, uncle, stepfather, mother, friend of the family, teacher, priest or coach. Strangers commit sex crimes on children in about seven percent of the cases.
Take the Next Step
If the information provided has helped you, the next step is yours. Contact an experienced and board-certified Texas criminal defense attorney to discuss your potential case. Brett A. Podolsky is a former Assistant Criminal District Attorney for the State of Texas. Contact the Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky if we can help you.