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How Brock Turner Could Have Been Prosecuted in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

How Brock Turner Could Have Been Prosecuted in Texas

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What if the Brock Turner Case Happened in Texas?

Brock Turner was a college student who was convicted of sexual assault after he was found molesting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on his college campus. The case generated a controversy when the presiding judge sentenced him to only a few months of jail time.

If the Brock Turner case had been prosecuted in Texas, things might have turned out differently. These kinds of cases do happen in Texas on a regular basis. If the Brock Turner case had happened here, we can take a look at how things might have proceeded.

The People v. Turner

In January of 2015, Brock Turner attended a party on the campus of Stanford University. The woman who came forward as the plaintiff in the Turner case was also at that party. She was no longer a college student and was visiting her sister who was a student elsewhere. The woman drank alcohol at the party.

Some time later, two international students were bicycling by a dumpster on campus when they saw a man on top of a woman who appeared to be unconscious. They approached the man, who stood up and ran away. They pursued him and held him until police arrived. That man turned out to be Brock Turner.

Turner was arrested on suspicion of attempted rape and penetration with a foreign object. He was later indicted on two counts of rape, two counts of felony sexual assault and one count of attempted rape. The rape charges were later dropped after DNA testing was performed on the victim.

In March of 2016, Brock Turner was found guilty of three counts of felony sexual assault. He could have gone to prison for 14 years, even though prosecutors were seeking six years in prison. Instead, the judge sentenced Turner to six months in county jail, three years of probation and registration as a sex offender for life. The light sentence caused a huge backlash.

Would Things Have Been Different in Texas?

While it is impossible to say exactly what would have been happened if the Turner case had occurred at a Texas university, it is safe to assume that some things would have been the same. If a student had been seen groping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on a Texas campus, it is likely that he would have been stopped, held and arrested as well.

The major difference in the case is how the suspect would have been charged. In California, Brock Turner faced five charges when he was initially indicted:

  • Rape of an intoxicated person
  • Rape of an unconscious person
  • Assault with attempt to rape an intoxicated woman
  • Sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object
  • Sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object

The two rape charges were dropped when DNA tests found no evidence of genital contact. The terms “rape” and “sexual assault” are sometimes used interchangeably but there is a difference. Rape is typically used to describe an assault when a victim is penetrated vaginally or anally by the sexual organs of their assailant.

In Texas, rape is known legally as sexual assault. Also, penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object and attempting sex with an unconscious person may also be considered sexual assault under Texas law.

Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code describes sexual assault:

  • A person causes the penetration of the anus or the sexual organs of another person by any means, without that person’s consent
  • A person causes the penetration of a person’s mouth by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person’s consent
  • A person causes the sexual organ of a person to penetrate the mouth, sexual organs or anus of another person, without that person’s consent

In Texas, consent has not been given if the perpetrator used threats, violence or intoxicating substances in order to get another person to allow penetration to occur. Additionally, consent cannot be given by an unconscious person or a person who is unaware that sexual contact is occurring.

Under this definition, Brock Turner would have been arrested and charged on suspicion of at least one count of sexual assault in Texas.

Legal Penalties and Conclusion

Texas law makes sexual assault a second degree felony. It’s punishable by:

  • Two to 20 years in prison
  • A $10,000 fine
  • Registration as a sex offender

It’s not possible to say if Brock Turner would have faced more jail time in Texas. However, he would have had the potential to face a longer maximum sentence.

Also, in Texas, Turner’s rape charges would not have been dropped due to no evidence of genital contact. In Texas, penetration by ANY means without consent is sexual assault.

To learn more about Texas sexual assault laws, contact and experienced attorney.

Do you know someone facing charges for sexual assault. Attorney Greg Tsioros can help you navigate the law and ensure that you get the best results possible. Contact his office today at 832-752-5972.

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