If you are facing charges for sexual assault or rape, you are likely worried about your future. Many Texas residents have a vague idea of what the crime of rape is, but might not understand the more nuanced differences between rape and sexual assault. In addition to rape and sexual assault, defendants can also face charges for statutory rape, even if both parties consented to the sexual act. Understanding the differences between rape and sexual assault in Texas can help you understand the charges against you.

 

Under Texas Law, Sexual Assault is Rape

In Texas, sexual assault is the term that the judical system commonly uses to refer to rape. The crime known as rape in many other states is called an assaultive offense of a sexual nature under Texas law. When a person is arrested for suspicion of sexual assault in Texas, he or she might still use law enforcement officers use the term rape. Prosecutors and judges, however, will continue to use the terms sexual assault. 

 

The Elements of the Crime of Sexual Assault

Texas law defines sexual assualt as one of three types of sexual acts. These acts are committed without the consent of one of the parties, or when a victim was not able to give consent:

  • Coercisve sexual acts
  • Forcible and violent intercourse with penetration or sexual contact, even when both parties consent
  • Intercourse and penetration without the consent of one of the parties
  • Sexual abuse of someone who is not able to give consent due to mental incapacity or a disability
  • Intercourse, penetration of a sexual nature with a minor

 

When is a Person Unable to Grant Consent?

What happens when a victim is not able to give consent? The sexual act can still be considered sexual assault under Texas law, even when the sex was not forcible. In the following scenarios, the victim must be legally identified as unable to give consent for the sexual act. This lack of consent involves the following:

  • The victim was severely intoxicated at the time of the sexual contact and not able to understand what was happening or consent to the sexual conduct
  • The victim had a serious intellectual disability that prevents the person from giving consent
  • The minor child is under 14 years old, or under the age of 18 and is at least five years younger than the defendant charged with sexual assault. 
  • Any time a victim is the defendant’s patient within a health care setting

When the defendant infliects severe bodily injury on the victim or attempts murder, or threatens the victim in any way, prosecutors might increase the charges to aggravated sexual assault. Prosecutors will need to prove that the threats made the victim fear kidnapping, injury, harm, or death.

 

Penalties for Sexual Assault Charges in Texas

The crime of sexual assault is a second-degree felony in Texas. Sexual assault is classified as a second-degree felony. Those convicted can receive a sentence of between two and 20 years in Texas state prison, and also a fine of $10,000. Importantly, those convicted of sexual assault must register as a sex offender after they are released from prison. 

Aggravated sexual assault is considered to be a felony in the first degree. Defendants convicted of these crimes come with a five to 99-year prison sentence in a state jail facility as well as a maximum fine of $10,000. Conviction of this crime will also come with mandaory registration on the Texas sex offender registry. In some cases, judges will lift the requirement of sex offender registration, but it is unlikely. 

 

Prosecution for Sexual Assault Accusations in Texas

Texas proseuctors often start the proceedings as soon as the victim of a sexual assault files a police report. Physical evidence of the sexual assault is usually not required for prosecutors to initiate an investigation or press charges. 

 

False Accusations of Sexual Assault in Texas

Unfortunately, false accusations of sexual assault, date-rape, and assualt have increased in recent years in Texas. Experienced sexual assualt defense lawyers have developed several different strategies to protect their clients against false sexual assault accusations. Typically, prosecutors will focus on the alleged victims’ lack of consent to secure a conviction. Defense lawyers will often use the lack of violence, the emotional state of the victim, and point of view awareness to challenge the prosecution’s story that the victim is guilty. 

 

Texas Law Punishes Sexual Assault More When the Defendant is Married

Texas law has a strange distinction in its sexual assault laws. Under Texas laws, there are enhanced penalties for sexual assault when a defendant is married and commits sexual assault against someone else other than his or her spouse. 

Texas courts upheld this law after a court convicted a defendant for statutory sexual assault after having sex with his son’s friend. The friend was under the age of 16 at the time of the sexual intercourse. Prosecutors elevated the charges to a first-degree felony because the defendant was married at the time. 

 

The Best Defense Strategies Against Texas Sexual Assault Charges

The sooner you contact a criminal defense lawyer, the better. At Jumes Law, we will review the facts of your case and develop a winning legal defense strategy. Each case is unique, but some of the most common legal defenses include:

  • Law enforcement or prosecutors violated your constitutional rights
  • You have an alibi that proves you were not at the crime scene when the sexual assault allegedly took place
  • The victim is not being truthful in testimony of what happened
  • The victim did consent to the sexual act
  • The victim mistakenly identified you as the perpetrator
  • Prosecutors failed to prove every element of sexual assault

 

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are facing sexual assault charges in Texas, Jumes Law can help. We have a thorough knowledge of Texas assault statutes and we will advocate for your best interests throughout the process. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.