Sexual assault cases are by far one of the most serious crimes you can be charged with in Texas. A conviction could result in hefty fines, lengthy prison term, and a sex offender tag that will haunt you for the remainder of your life. In this post, we have answered six questions that people commonly ask Texas sexual assault defense attorneys, so that you understand what your rights are and what kind of steps you need to take to protect your freedom.
What Constitutes Sexual Assault in Texas? And Is It the Same as Rape?
Texas sexual assault laws use the term sexual assault – instead of rape – to describe any non-consensual sexual activity wherein one party penetrates the mouth, sexual organ, or anus of another party.
When Does Sexual Assault become Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas?
Under Texas law, sexual assault becomes aggravated sexual assault cases if one or more of the following factors are applicable.
- If the perpetrator caused or threatened to cause bodily harm to the victim
- If a weapon was displayed to threaten the victim
- In case a weapon was used to cause bodily harm to the victim
- If the victim has a physical or mental disability that prevented them from defending themselves
- If the victim was an elderly person
- In case drugs were used to subdue the victim
- If the victim was under the age of 14 when the crime was committed
What is the Age of Consent for Sexual Contact in Texas?
Texas sexual assault laws state that a person needs to be 17 years old or older in order to be able to consent to engage in sexual activity with another person. Also, the age of consent can be lowered to 14 years if the other party is 17 years old or younger.
Who Cannot Consent to Sexual Activity under Texas Sexual Assault Laws?
A person cannot legally consent to sexual activity if they meet one or more of the following criteria.
- If they are under the age of 17
- If they are intoxicated by alcohol or any controlled substance
- In case they are unconscious or incapacitated
- If they are mentally disabled
If an Underage Person Lies about Their Age, Can That Be Used as a Defense against Charges of Sexual Assault?
No. Texas sexual assault laws clearly state that a person under the age of 17 cannot legally consent to any kind of sexual activity. What it actually means is that they are not mature enough to be held responsible for their own actions. With that said, the onus is on the other party to find out how old they are and whether they can legally consent to sexual activity.
What are the Penalties for First-Degree and Second-Degree Sexual Assault in Texas?
Under Texas sexual assault laws, the penalties for sexual assault (second-degree felony) include fine (up to $10,000), prison sentence (2 to 20 years), and sex offender registration. In fact, if it’s a first-degree felony, the prison sentence will be from 5 to 99 years.
Experienced Sexual Assault Defense Attorneys in Texas
At Hines Ranc & Holub, we know that the consequences of a sexual assault conviction in Texas can be life altering. We are fully committed to defending individuals who are facing charges of sexual assault and other sexual crimes. Plus, we fight hard to obtain the best outcome possible.
To discuss your case with one of our Austin sexual assault defense attorneys, call us today at 512-883-5386 or contact us online and schedule a free and confidential consultation.