Any criminal justice attorney in Houston will vouch for the fact that sexual assault is recognized as one of the most serious crimes under the Texas Penal Code and in the minds of most jurors that might have to decide on such cases. Convicted sexual offenders face harsh judgments and punishments, such as extended jail terms, massive fines or lifetime sexual offender registration requirements. Generally speaking, you will have a hard time in Texas if you are found guilty of a sexual assault, especially if a child is involved. For this reason, the first recommendation I would make to a person charged with a such an offense is to hire a seasoned criminal justice attorney specializing in sex crimes.
The sentencing for sexual crimes in Texas vary from case to case, the type of the assault and the amount of tangible evidence available but you can be sure that it is not something you would want to deal with. In this post, we will define what a sexual assault is in Texas, explore the main types of sexual assault and the charges & penalties that apply.
Overstanding Sexual Assault Cases in Texas
A Review of the Legal System in Texas
Under Texas law, sexual assault is any form of non-consensual and unwanted sexual contact (involving penetration) against another person. ‘Non-consensual’ here covers threats of violence, manipulations of any kind, coercion and physical force used during the act.
The case of a sexual assault in Texas can be prosecuted right after the victim’s word even if there is no physical evidence that supports the accusation. Note that this does not give people a chance to file false sexual assault allegations. In the same spirit, the law is harsh on convicted sexual offenders, serious charges and penalties also apply to people who file false sexual allegations.
Now that we understand what a sexual assault is in this jurisdiction, let’s look at the types of sexual assaults recognized under the Texas laws; sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.
Sexual assault vs aggravated sexual assault Texas
Sexual assault is a broad term covering factors including penetration to the sexual organ of another person by any means without their consent. A sexual assault may also include sexual activity or contact with a child under the age of 17 without their consent. Remember, it is still a sexual assault, even if you didn’t know that the person was under 17 when committing the sexual crime.
The term aggravating means ‘more serious’ and therefore, an aggravated sexual assault is just a more serious sexual assault. In simpler terms, it is all we have defined as sexual assault but now with additional factors that make the crime more serious.
Common aggravating factors related to sexual assaults in Texas include:
- Using violence, threats or a weapon when committing the crime
- Sexually assaulting a child under 14 years
- Sexually assaulting an older person or a disabled person
- Using a drug or any other chemical compound on the victim before committing the sexual crime
- Conducting the sex crime collaboratively with another person
Both sexual assault and aggravated sexual assaults come with distinct charges and punishments, as discussed below.
The penalties & sentences
In general, all sexual assaults will be charged as a second or first-degree felony. A ‘normal’ sexual assault will be charged as a second-degree felony. This is normally accompanied by a 2-20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The charge automatically turns to a first-degree felony if the involved victim of the reported sexual assault was a person whom the law prohibited the offender from marrying. The punishment here is a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a jail term (in a state prison) of 5 to 99 years.
The penalties for an aggravated sexual assault in Texas are harsher and fall under a first-degree felony charge. The minimum years you will be jailed when found guilty of aggravated sexual assault are 25 years. The law allows the judges, prosecutors and lawmakers to be ruthless, aggressive and unforgiving to aggravated sexual offenders. Aggravated sexual offenders remain registered on the sexual offenders’ list for the rest of their life.
Recent Sex Crimes in the News
- Commissioners approve $3M for HCSO to fight violent crime
- 3 More Women Accuse Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson of Sexual Assault, Deleting Messages
- Sex trafficking crimes brought against Epstein ex-girlfriend
Hire a Criminal Justice Lawyer
If you want to live in the freeworld, outside of prison, in Texas, then you need to shun away from sexual crimes. Clearly, a sexual offense in Texas is the most serious crime you can do and thus the harsh and severe punishments. If you have been sexually assaulted or know a person who has gone through the same, you should report to the relevant authorities to ensure that the offender does not go unpunished. In the same breath, anytime you are unfairly charged with a sexual assault crime, you can hire a criminal justice lawyer in Houston with experience fighting sex crime allegations to help you get your charges reduced or dismissed during pre-trial.