Charged With Sexual Assault In Texas?
In Texas, getting arrested and charged with sexual assault is a horrible thing to face considering the far-reaching implications of a conviction on your freedom, reputation and relationships with family and friends. Some sexual assault incidents are obvious. Other times, what seems like sexual assault is nothing of the sort, but instead a false or misplaced accusation by someone who just wants to ruin your life. Without effective legal counsel, things could go from bad to worse for you. Let’s take a closer look at what constitutes sexual assault in Texas and what you can do if you are accused.
According to Texas law, you generally commit indecent assault if, without another person’s consent, you touch their anus, breast, or any part of their genitals. It also means touching another person with your anus, breast or genitals, or exposing or trying to expose another person’s private parts including their genitals, anus, female areola, or pubic area. Moreover, indecent assault includes causing someone to contact the blood, vaginal fluid, seminal fluid, saliva, urine or feces of another. To be found guilty, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt your intent at the time to arouse or gratify sexual desire in anyone including yourself.
Under Texas law, sexual assault of an adult is committed in three different ways, all of which involve you acting intentionally or with the knowledge that you are engaging in the act without the other person’s consent: (1) penetrating the anus or sexual organ of another person; (2) penetrating the mouth of another person by your sexual organ; or (3) causing the sexual organ of another person to penetrate your or another person’s mouth, anus or sexual organ.
Sexual assault of a child is committed in five different ways, all of which include you acting intentionally or with the knowledge that you are engaging in the act: (1) penetrating the anus or sexual organ of the child by any means; (2) penetrating the mouth of the child by your sexual organ; (3) causing the sexual organ of a child to contact your or another person’s mouth, anus or sexual organ; (4) causing the anus of a child to contact your or another person’s mouth, anus or sexual organ; and (5) causing a child’s mouth to contact your or another person’s anus or sexual organ.
What does it mean to engage in sexual assault without consent? According to Texas law, here are some examples:
- Causing someone to participate or submit by using coercion, physical force or violence, or by threatening to use force or violence on them or someone else
- The other person does not consent, and you know that they are physically unable to resist or are unconscious
- You know that the other person is mentally incapacitated to the point in which they either don’t resist or cannot grasp what you are doing
- The other person does not give you consent, and you know that they are unaware of the sexual assault
- You intentionally drug or impair the other person without their knowledge, affecting their ability to control themselves
- You are a public servant who coerces the person to participate or submit
- You are a health care services provider (physician, chiropractor, physical therapist, nurse) or mental health services provider (social worker, counselor, therapist, psychologist) who causes the other person – which might be your current or former patient – to participate or submit by exploiting their emotional dependency on you
- You are a clergyman (priest, minister, religious leader) who causes the other person to participate or submit by exploiting their emotional dependence on you as their adviser
- You are an employee of a facility where the other person resides (unless you are married to each other)
- You are a health care services worker who uses human reproductive material from the donor without the other person expressly consenting to the use of the donor’s material
Aggravated Sexual Assault
There are certain instances in which sexual assault is considered aggravated:
- You cause serious bodily injury or try to cause the other person’s death
- You cause the other person to fear that they or someone else will become a victim of trafficking, serious bodily injury or death
- You use or exhibit a deadly weapon
- You and others join together to commit the act
- You drug someone or otherwise impair their ability to resist
- The other person is a child who is under 14 years old or an elderly or disabled person
First of all, the prosecutor must show that you know or intend to commit the offense. You could have done something inappropriate or aggressive, but this does not automatically make it indecent assault, sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault. The prosecutor might not have any direct or indirect evidence that goes towards your knowledge or intent. If there is a legitimate question as to your knowledge or intent, then you should be found not guilty by a jury.
Also, even if you commit an act which might be deemed sexual assault, you could mount a defense to prosecution in the following situations:
- You are the spouse of the child
- You are no more than three years older than the child and at the time of the offense, you are not required to register as a sex offender for life or otherwise required to report a past conviction or adjudication for sexual assault or another sex crime
- The child is 14 or older and someone who you are not precluded from marrying or having sex with
If the incident concerns a child, then it is possible for you to defend on the grounds that you are administering medical care on the child and that this medical care does not consist of making contact between the anus or sexual organ of the child and your or another person’s mouth, anus or sexual organ.
Penalties For Sexual Assault
Indecent assault constitutes a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a $4,000 fine and a one year jail sentence.
Sexual assault is normally considered a second degree felony which is punishable by a $10,000 fine and 2-10 year jail sentence.
Aggravated sexual assault is a first degree felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and a 5-99 year jail sentence. However, a minimum 25-year jail sentence will apply if the child is under the age of six or where the child is under the age of 14 and the offense is committed by you hurting the child, trying to kill the child, threatening to hurt the child or another person, using a deadly weapon, joining in with other people to commit the act, or impairing the child to prevent his or her resistance.
If this is your first run in with the law, then depending on the circumstances, it is possible for you to be placed on probation in lieu of more serious punishment.
If You Are Charged With Sexual Assault
If you are accused or charged with sexual assault (sometimes referred to as rape), whether it is by your accuser, the police or even a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigator, then you should refrain from speaking with them if possible and instead consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. You might not have done anything wrong – or at least not what you are accused of. Moreover, you could be falsely accused by someone who has a vendetta against you. With an effective defense, your attorney might be able to prevent a case from being filed or potentially prevent an indictment.
The Fulgham Law Firm is a dedicated criminal defense firm with proven results. We protect the rights of the accused through assertive and effective representation. Founder Brandon Fulgham – a former prosecutor – is well versed on strategies that prosecutors might use against you. He knows what defensive strategies to use given your unique needs and circumstances. If you have been accused or charged with a sex crime, call (817) 877-5200 or contact us online for a free consultation.