Sexual Assault in Texas: Laws, Investigations, and Penalties
- April 27, 2016
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Sexual Assault in Texas: Laws, Investigations, and Penalties
Sexual Assault Laws in Texas
In Texas, the term sexual assault refers to a variety of illegal sexual actions that are committed without the consent of the person being acted upon. All types of sexual assault are serious crimes in Texas and many are classified as felonies. A conviction for a sexual assault crime can lead to years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines and lifelong mandatory registration as a sex offender. Committing any type of sexual assault can lead to lengthy and thorough investigations carried out by law enforcement.
What Is Sexual Assault?
According to Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code, sexual assault occurs when a person intentionally and knowingly performs any type of sexual penetration on another person without that person’s consent. Also, any type of sexual contact with a child may be considered sexual assault.
The critical component of any instance of sexual assault is the issue of consent. Consent is considered an affirmative agreement to engage in sexual activity. If consent is not present, then sexual assault may have occurred. Some scenarios in which consent has not been given include:
- Using violence or the threat of violence to obtain consent
- Using drugs to render a person unconscious
- Engaging in sex with a person who is unconscious or unaware of the assault
- Engaging in sex with a person who is mentally incapable of understanding the situation
- Using a position of power or authority to coerce someone into sexual activity
Also, in Texas, a minor under the age of 17 cannot legally give consent to sexual activity. This can lead to sexual assault charges even if the minor agreed to engage in sex willingly. Any type of sexual activity that is performed without consent may lead to criminal charges.
Types of Sexual Assault
There are several different types of sexual assault. Sexual assault can occur in a variety of circumstances and the legal punishments can vary based on the situation. For example, Texas has specific laws for:
- Sexual assault of a spouse
- Sexual assault of a minor
- Sexual assault of an employee
- Sexual assault of an elderly or disabled person
Also, sexual assault charges can be enhanced to aggravated sexual assault charges if the victim was seriously injured during the assault.
Sexual assault crimes are taken very seriously by Texas law enforcement. A claim of sexual assault by an alleged victim can lead to an extensive investigation. As part of this investigation, law enforcement may conduct:
- DNA tests
- Witness and victim interviews
- Alleged perpetrator interviews
- Collecting phone and email records
- Collecting medical testimony
If there is enough evidence to support an allegation, criminal charges of sexual assault may be filed and the suspect may be taken into custody.
The legal penalties for sexual assault in Texas can be severe. For example, sexual assault is a second degree felony in this state. This can lead to:
- Incarceration in a Texas prison for two to 20 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Mandatory lifelong registration as a sex offender
A person who is convicted of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault of a child or sexual assault of a dependent or employee may face elevated charges. In some cases, these charges can be elevated to first degree felony status. If this occurs, the punishment could be five to 99 years or life in prison.
Sexual assault charges should always be taken seriously. If these allegations are false, the character of the accused can be permanently damaged. Hiring an experienced defense attorney is the best way to handle these types of charges.
An attorney may be able to use evidence from the crime scene, witness interviews and email and phone records to vouch for the character of the defendant while also pointing out flaws in the prosecution’s case. For example, a defense attorney might argue that the victim gave consent at the time of the sexual activity and then later changed their story. In certain cases, this type of strategy might convince a jury to issue a verdict of not guilty or it might convince the judge to offer a plea bargain for a lesser punishment.
If you have been charged with sexual assault, you know how intimidating and confusing it can be. Greg Tsioros is an aggressive, experienced attorney and can help you navigate the law. Contact his office today at 832-752-5972.