Sexual Assault Lawyers in Pearland Helping Clients Facing Charges to Fight Back
It is estimated that over 13,509 cases of sexual assault were reported in Texas in 2020, which means the state ranks first in the nation when it comes to reported sexual assault and rape cases in the United States. Get the facts about sexual assault laws in Texas and learn what you should do if you are facing charges.
What Is Considered Sexual Assault in Texas?
In Texas, the term sexual assault is used to define any action involving unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact against another person, including rape and statutory rape. The use of physical force as well as threats, coercion, and manipulation, can all be understood as a lack of consent. In other words, in Texas, rape is considered sexual assault and called an assaultive offense of a sexual nature.
This type of crime is committed when one of the parties did not give consent or was not able to give consent due to reasons such as having a mental disability or being intoxicated. If the perpetrator causes severe bodily injury to the victim, threatens the victim, or attempts murder, the prosecution may escalate the charges to aggravated sexual assault.
Does Texas Have Statutory Rape Laws?
In Texas, an individual who is at least 18 years old and engages in sexual activity with someone who is 17 years old or younger may be charged with statutory rape. The state considers that minors are legally incapable of giving consent to sexual activity, even if the two parties agree. Statutory rape is an umbrella term for several crimes, such as indecency with a child, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault.
There is, however, an exception to the Texas statutory rape laws called the Romeo and Juliet laws. These laws allow teenagers and young adults to be exempt from being charged with statutory rape when sexually engaging with another person under the age of 17, as long as certain requirements apply. The younger party must be at least 14 years old, and the age gap between both parties must be not more than three years. In addition, neither party should be a registered sex offender, and sexual contact must be mutually agreed upon.
What Are the Penalties for Sexual Assault in Texas?
Sexual assault is considered to be a second-degree felony in Texas, which means an individual convicted of sexual assault could be facing between two and 20 years in state prison. In addition to prison time, those convicted may need to pay a fine of up to $10,000.00 and be entered into the sex offender registry. If any aggravating factors are present – such as the use of date-rape drugs, weapons, or a sexual assault committed against a victim under 14 years of age or an elder/disabled person – then the sexual assault could be elevated to aggravated sexual assault.
Aggravated sexual assault is a more serious crime classified as a first-degree felony. Penalties for a first-degree felony may include a prison sentence ranging from 5 to 99 years in addition to a maximum fine of $10,000.00 and mandatory entry into the sex offender registry. If the victim was younger than six years old or between six and 13 years old and other circumstances (such as the use of a deadly weapon or the threat of human trafficking) were present, the minimum sentence may be raised to 25 years in prison.
What Can a Sexual Assault Lawyer Do to Help?
Texas laws are favorable to sexual assault victims and allow prosecutors to initiate proceedings shortly after the victim files a police report. The state can initiate investigations and press charges before any physical evidence is recovered. Unfortunately, that often means many false accusations can occur. It is crucial to secure the help of a seasoned sexual assault defense lawyer to protect your rights and your reputation if you are facing sexual assault charges.
Being charged does not mean you will be convicted, and a sexual assault attorney can help you avoid being convicted or negotiate a lesser conviction by challenging the prosecution’s evidence, questioning whether your constitutional rights are being violated, and questioning the victim’s testimony, for example. There are many possible defense strategies against a sexual assault charge, but simply claiming that you are innocent will not stop the prosecution from coming after you – even if you are a victim of false accusations.
By working with a seasoned legal team such as the Kahn Law Firm, P.C., you can rest assured our criminal defense lawyers will explore every possible avenue to challenge your charges and get them dropped. When that is not possible, our attorneys can work to reach a favorable outcome, such as de-escalating your charges, negotiating a plea deal, or convincing the court to issue a less severe penalty. We will conduct our own investigation and analyze the evidence the state may be presenting against you, making use of a variety of resources such as expert witnesses, laboratory exams, and electronic sources such as social media to produce our own set of evidence to tell your side of the story.
A sexual assault conviction can mean not only fines and prison time but also a tainted reputation that will affect you in many areas of your life for years. You have the right to defend yourself, and our skilled sexual assault lawyers can help.
If you are facing sexual assault charges, do not delay and reach out to the Kahn Law Firm, P.C. in Pearland, Texas, by calling 713-999-6549 and requesting a free initial consultation to discuss your case.