Texas sexual assault what do I need to know?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was charged with sexual assault in Texas. What does this mean? What penalties will I face if convicted? Do I need a criminal defense lawyer or can I simply fight this case on my own?” 

Thousands of forcible sexual assault charges are reported in the State of Texas each year. The penalties levied against a defendant can vary based on the act committed and the age of the victim. Regardless of the charge, however, sexual assault is a serious offense, and you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Overview of sexual assault in Texas

You can be charged with sexual assault, also referred to as rape, in the State of Texas if you commit any of the sexual activities outlined under Texas Sexual Assault Statute (Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Sections 22.011 and 22.021). Including the following:

  • Sexual intercourse and penetration without consent
  • Forcible and violent sexual intercourse (even with consent)
  • Coercive sexual acts
  • Sexual abuse of someone who cannot give consent due to disability or mental capacity
  • Intercourse, penetration or sexual contact with a minor 

Penalties for sexual assault charge in Texas

If you are arrested for sexual assault you can be charged with a second degree felony. If convicted you may be required to spend two to twenty years in a state prison and pay a fine up to $10,000.

Other more serious sexual assault charges include aggravated sexual assault which can be upgraded to a first degree felony charge. For example, if you sexually assault someone under the age of six, use a deadly weapon while committing the crime, or attempt to kill the child, you can be charged with a first degree felony. If convicted of a first degree felony, you may be required to spend five to ninety-nine years in state prison and pay a fine of up to $10,000. 

Defenses against sexual assault

Unfortunately, there are some defendants who are falsely accused of crimes. If you have been false accused of sexual assault it’s time to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer. Common defenses against sexual assault are listed below.

  1. You are innocent.

 If you have been false accused of sexual assault you will need to provided evidence of your innocence. For example, you might have evidence (i.e. video footage, hotel receipts, credit card receipts) that you were in a different city at the time of the assault. You also may be able to use DNA evidence to establish another person committed the crime.

  1. The alleged victim consented to the sexual act. 

Another way to prove you are not guilty of sexual assault is to prove the victim consented to the act. Although this is not a defense if the victim is under-aged, if they are an adult and you can provide evidence that they willingly engaged in sexual acts with you, this can be an effective defense. 

  1. You did not understand the criminal nature of your actions.

Although this likely does not pertain to your particular case, in some cases a person may be able to defend against a sexual assault charge if they can prove they did not understand their actions therefore they are not criminally liable for their actions. For example, if the alleged defendant is mentally incompetent.

What is date rape?

Although you did not provide details about your sexual assault charge, it’s important to note that more and more individuals are finding themselves involved in cases which are termed “date rape” cases. Although this charge is a sexual assault charge, it is a charge which occurs often in a dating setting where the victim and the alleged offender know each other.

Unfortunately for many date rape victims, many date rape cases are not successfully prosecuted because by nature the trials can be a bit less conclusive. In fact, convictions for date rape cases is less likely than rape perpetuated by a stranger. Jurors are also more likely to consider other factors about the victim such as whether she used drugs or alcohol, was dressed provocatively, was sexually active or used birth control.

Bottom Line:

If you have been charged with sexual assault you do not want to fight this charge alone. Given the complexity of the law, the severity of the penalties, and the long-term ramifications of a felony conviction, you need legal help. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer immediately.

(Tags - crimes and law )

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