You probably do not expect the ill-fated heroes from a Shakespearean tragedy to come to your rescue when charged with a sex offense, but Texas’ Romeo and Juliet statutes may provide a defense. Knowing that sexual assault of a child is one of the most serious sex crimes defined by state law, it is a relief to learn that such a strategy is available. If you miss out on this opportunity to fight the allegations, you could face a Second Degree Felony. A conviction is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 2 years in prison, though a judge could sentence up to 10 years.
Therefore, to utilize Texas Romeo and Juliet laws to your advantage, it is imperative that you consult with a Houston sex crimes defense attorney who can tackle the complicated legal process. A few quick facts may also be helpful.
- Definitions Are Everything
Despite the fact that there are multiple crimes that cover sex crimes regarding minors, there is no single definition of “child” in Texas criminal laws. As such, you need to understand how the different offenses apply to age.
- For most purposes, anyone who is not 18 years or older is a minor.
- Some state sex offense statutes cover unlawful conduct involving any victim younger than 17 years old, i.e., someone 16 and under.
- For some offenses, 14 years old is the age to focus on. In some cases, this is because the Romeo and Juliet laws apply; however, when a victim is 13 years or younger, a sex crime could be elevated to aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Keeping these ages in mind, you do not need a defense to fight charges of sexual assault of a child if that person is exactly 17 years old. By definition, this is not a criminal offense – despite the fact that the other individual has not yet reached adulthood. However, Romeo and Juliet defenses enter the picture in other scenarios:
- Sexual Assault: You have an affirmative defense if the victim was at least 14 years old and you are not more than three years older.
- Sexual Performance by a Child: A child is anyone under 18 years old for purposes of this statute, but there is a defense when the age-gap is less than two years.
Do not expect charges to be dropped just because you can present information on age. There are procedural rules for presenting affirmative defenses, and you must go through the process to bring these issues properly before the court.
Call Now to Speak to a Houston Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer
These quick facts about Texas Romeo and Juliet laws are useful for framing the basic concepts, but you will need an experienced attorney’s help in a real-life case. To learn about our legal services for defending sex crimes, please contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates. You can call (281) 280-0100 or visit us online to set up a consultation. Once we review your circumstances, we can discuss potential strategies.