Sexual assault is a very serious criminal offense throughout the United States. In the state of Texas, it’s also considered a serious criminal violation of the law. Sexual assault, more commonly known as rape, occurs when a person knowingly and intentionally forcibly commits a number of sexual activities that are prohibited as per Texas’s sexual assault law against the will of another person and without their consent.
Elements of Sexual Assault
There are several specific acts that are considered sexual assault. One of the criteria includes the assault of a child. A child in the state of Texas is someone under the age of 17. In other words, if an adult engages in a sexual act with a child younger than the age of 17, that would be considered statutory rape, even if the young person willingly engaged in that act. This is because an underage child legally cannot give consent.
Another example of someone being unable to give consent is if someone is drugged and incapacitated. Due to their state, they would be unable to give consent. Consent is lacking in any situation where one person is fully in control and the other has no power because they are physically incapable of resisting. This includes a situation such as a defendant being a clergyman, health care services provider, public servant, or employee at the facility in which the victim lives.
A charge of sexual assault can also be elevated to aggravated sexual assault if any of the following situations occur during the assault:
• The victim suffered serious bodily injury or was nearly killed due to the actions of the defendant
• The defendant caused serious bodily injury to or kidnapped the victim or another individual and caused fear of death in the victim
• The defendant used a deadly weapon or at least exhibited one during the crime
• The defendant carried out the crime with another person
• Rohypnol, also known as the “date rape drug,” or ketamine was used to restrain the victim so that the defendant could commit the sexual assault
• The victim is younger than 14 years old
• The victim is an elderly or disabled person
Possible Defenses for Sexual Assault Charges
There are a few defenses against sexual assault that a criminal defense attorney can use. They include the following:
• The conduct was actually medical care for a child and didn’t involve any contact with or penetration of the mouth, anus, or sexual organ by the same body parts of the defendant
• The defendant was the child’s spouse at the time of the offense
• There was a lack of intent
• The defendant was no older than three years the child’s senior at the time of the offense or the child was 14 or older and was not prohibited from marrying the defendant
• The victim gave consent
• The defendant is legally insane
Penalties and Sentences for Sexual Assault
Sexual assault in Texas is charged as a second-degree felony. That means there is a sentence of as little as two years or as great as 20 years in state prison and possibly a fine of up to $10,000. The crime can be elevated to a first-degree felony if the victim was someone the defendant was prohibited from marrying or living with the defendant so as to appear to be married. With a first-degree felony sexual assault charge, a person can be sentenced to five to 99 years in state prison and receive a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated sexual assault is also a first-degree felony. The minimum prison sentence is 25 years if the victim is a child younger than six or if a deadly weapon was used during the commission of the crime. The same goes if the child was seriously injured or if the defendant tried to kill the child.
If you are arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in Texas, it’s important that you speak to a lawyer immediately. Contact the Law Office of Eric Harron to get connected with a skilled criminal attorney at your earliest convenience.