Sex Crimes in Texas

Learn everything you need to know about the charge of ‘sex crimes’ and make an informed decision

Sex Crimes in Texas

Over the years, The state of Texas has earned the reputation of harsh rulings when it comes to sex crimes. Sex crimes allegations under the federal law and the state can be damaging to one’s reputation. Most crimes under this category are generally charged as felonies that result in a jail term of up to life imprisonment. A single conviction can shadow you for the rest of life, which is why having an aggressive defense team is crucial to your case.

What Are Sex Crimes?

Texas has established laws that define illegal conduct, which constitutes the term “sex crimes.” Such acts include rape, possession of child pornography, internet sex crimes, prostitution, sexting, indecency with a child, online solicitation of a minor and aggravated sex crimes, among others.

A sex crime in some situations involves sexual conduct, which is defined by the state as an illegal act despite the consent of the parties involved. This, therefore, means that consent is not always grounds for legal defense. It is important to note that the laws regarding sex crimes are ever changing in terms of how they are interpreted. For instance, teenagers who were accused of sexting would face felony charges as adults until the legislature developed a misdemeanor statute for minors.

Sex Crimes as Stipulated Under the Texas Law      

1.   Sex Crimes Involving Children

  • Criminal solicitation of a minor; According to the Texas Penal code Chapter 15 section 031, it is illegal to solicit a person who is considered a minor to take part in particular enumerated offenses.

  • Human trafficking/ sexual trafficking of a minor; As stipulated in the penal code section 20A.02, human trafficking involves restraining a minor’s movement without consent and moving them from one place to another. Forcing them to engage in sexual activities is used in explaining sexual trafficking.

  • Continuous sexual abuse of a minor under the penal code section 21.02 stipulates that an offense is committed if the victim is below 14 years, and the defendant is 17 years or older. A person commits an offense if, during a period of 30 days or more, the person performs acts of sexual abuse against one or more victims.

  • Indecency with a child under the penal code section 21.11 outlines the offense. A person commits the crime if he/she engages in sexual acts with a child or forces the child to engage in such acts. The crime also involves exposing parts of genitals in the presence of a child.

  • Improper relationship between an educator and student under code section 21.12. An employee of a school commits this crime is he/she engages in sexual acts with an individual who is enrolled in the same institution where the employee works.

  • Compelling prostitution of a person below 18 years under section 43.05 (a) (2); The accused commits the crime if he/she knowingly causes another individual to commit prostitution. The victim is usually a minor below the age of 18 years. An offense under this section is considered a first-degree felony.

  • Sexual performance by a child under the penal code section 43.25 defines the crime as the performance that involves the sexual conduct of a child who is below the age of 18 years. The term ‘performance’ is used to refer to photography, motion picture, or any form of visual representation.

  • Employment harmful to children as defined under the Texas penal code section involves a sexually based type of commercial establishment such a studio or a massage parlor, which involves the exploitation of minors. This offense is categorized as a first-degree felony if the victim is below the age of 14 years.

2.   Sex Crimes Regarding Rape (Sexual assault)

According to Texas law, the term ‘rape” is not recognized in the statutes; however, the legislation establishes sexual assault as a sex crime. The sex crimes categorized as sexual assault include in chapter 22 of the penal code include;;

  • Sexual assault under penal code section 22.011. An individual commits the crime of sexual assault if he/she intentionally performs sexual acts on the victim without consent. If you or your loved one is facing possible assault charges, then seeking legal counsel from an established defense attorney would be in your best interest.

  • Aggravated assault as stipulated under code section 22.021. An individual commits aggravated sexual; assault if they knowingly forced the victim into certain sexual acts while causing severe bodily injury or threatened the victim to take part in such acts.

It is important to be aware that even victims of sexual assault in Texas might require the expert services of a criminal defense attorney. This is because false accusation is considered a felony crime with hefty fines.

3.   Sex Crimes Regarding Pornography

It is illegal in the state of Texas to be in possession, create, own, store, or be associated in any way with pornography. An experienced sex crime attorney knows that the form of pornography is not a strong defense against such charges. Sex crimes involving pornography include;

  • Improper photography or visual recording under penal code section 21.15. An individual commits the crime of invasive visual recording if he/she invaded the privacy of the victim by filming or photographing parts of their private parts without consent.

  • Obscene display or distribution, as defined in the penal code section 43.22. A person commits this sex crime if he/she intentionally distributes or displays an obscene drawing, photograph, or any visual representation or any type of obscene material and is reckless in caring if the other person will take offense or will be alarmed by the content.

  • Sale, display, or distribution of harmful material to a minor as defined in section 43.24 of the penal code. The term ‘harmful material’ is used to mean that the content is patently offensive and lacks redeeming value to the minor. A minor is defined as a person who is below the age of 18 years.

  • Possession or promotion of child pornography according to section 43.26 of the penal code. An individual commits this offense if he or she knowingly possesses visual material depicting a minor below 18 years involved in a sexual act.

4.   Sex Crimes Involving Prostitution

Most of the time, prostitution usually overlaps with other crimes involving human trafficking in Texas. You should be aware of any additional charges by the prosecution team when facing prostitution charges. The sex crimes involving prostitution include;

  • Prostitution, according to section 43.02. A person commits the crime of prostitution if he/she intentionally offers or agrees to receive payment from another person in order to take part in a sexual act. An individual commits the crime if he/she knowingly agree to offer payment for engaging in a sexual act with another person.

The charges for prostitution range from a class A misdemeanor or a state jail felony if the accused is a second-time offender. You might be charged with a second-degree felony in the event that the accused was involved with a minor.

  • Promotion of prostitution under section 43.03. An individual, apart from committing the crime of prostitution, also solicits another to be involved in sexual conduct, receives funds from the proceeds of prostitution. The accused might also use online means for the promotion of prostitution.

  • Aggravated promotion of prostitution under section 43.04. A person commits this crime if he or she knowingly invests in, controls, owns, supervises, finances, or manages a prostitution establishment that has two or more prostitutes. The penalties for aggravated promotion of prostitution are categorized as a first-degree felony.

  • Compelling prostitution according to section 43.05 of the penal code. An individual commits this crime if he/she
  1. i) knowingly uses threat, fraud, or coercion to commit prostitution
  2. ii) causes a minor to commit prostitution despite whether the actor knows the age of the minor during the time of the crime or not. Compelling prostitution is charged as a first-degree felony, which is accompanied by hefty fines.

“It is important to be aware that even victims of sexual assault in Texas might require the expert services of a criminal defense attorney. This is because false accusation is considered a felony crime with hefty fines.”

Penalties and Consequences for Sex Crimes

In Texas, a sexual assault is usually categorized as a second-degree felony, which carries a 2 to a 20-year sentence in a state jail and/or a fine amounting to $10,000. Sexual assault charges can, however, be moved up to a first-degree felony in the event where the victim was someone who the accused was prevented from marrying. A first-degree felony is punishable by up to 99 years in a state jail and /or a fine amounting to $10,000.

Aggravated sexual assault is also categorized as a first-degree felony. The defendant should expect a minimum prison sentence of 25 years if the defendant was 6 years older than the victim at the time that the crime took place or if the accused was 14 years older than the victim or used a deadly weapon was in the act, and the victim was seriously injured.

Possible Defenses Against Sex Crimes in Texas

If you are facing sex crime charges, then you should be able to know how you can defend yourself in a court of law. Working with an aggressive sex crime defense lawyer who will inform you about your case and the best defenses against all the accusations brought to you will ensure that you get a favorable outcome.

1.   Innocence

The most basic defense in a sexual assault case is claiming innocence. The defendant can argue that they couldn’t have committed the crime by providing an alibi of being somewhere else at the that the crime took place. Your defense attorney should, however, be able to provide convincing evidence to support your whereabouts during the time of the crime.

2.   Consent

You might decide to admit to the sexual conduct in question but provide an argument that the victim provided consent. The elements of sexual assault include lack of consent, so in a situation where the defense team can prove that the victim provided consent, the prosecution has no grounds for charges.

Proving consent for the defense team is no mean task. The best approach would be to use the sexual history of the victim to show that the victim gave consent for the act. An attorney who understands your case will be able to convince the court of your innocence.

3.   Mental incapacity or insanity

The defendant can claim to be mentally incapacitated at the time that the crime occurred. Such a claim, if successfully argued, should be able to remove criminal liability for the sexual conduct. A mentally challenged individual lacks the capacity to understand their wrongful actions and would, therefore, receive a lenient ruling.

Consequences of a sex crimes conviction

Registration of a sex offender and the removal from the registry

In Texas, a convicted sex offender is required by the law to submit their details on the Texas offender registry. The details include the name, home address, gender, race, age, sentence, and colored photograph, among other information.

Such information is then made available to the general public online. It is, therefore, a serious situation to be arrested and convicted as a sex offender. Your social life will be impacted by reducing your chances of getting employed, building relationships, and living a normal life. Your defense attorney should be able to do all that they can to prevent your conviction or get you a lesser sentence.

Get a criminal defense attorney

Facing sex crime charges is a life-altering situation that should not be taken lightly. The sooner you involve a criminal defense attorney in your case, the better your chances for not getting a conviction. Sex crimes are mostly categorized as felonies that carry severe punishments, including serious jail time and fines. Defense attorneys understand how rapidly lives change as a result of a conviction despite the defendant being innocent of the crimes against him/her.

Defense attorneys begin their work by conducting their investigations by studying the evidence collected by the prosecution and the identifying mistakes done during the defendant’s arrest. Regardless of how the case might seem dark for the defendant, a zealous criminal defense lawyer might turn things around and emerge victoriously. If you or someone you care about is facing possible sex crime charges, the best way forward is to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney who is well versed with sex crimes laws in Texas.

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