Texas law makes it illegal for an adult, those ages eighteen and older, to have sex with a minor, those under the age of eighteen, even when the minor consents. The criminal charge for performing a sexual act with a minor is known as statutory rape.
Statutory Rape is a Strict Liability Offense
Under Texas law, statutory rape is a strict liability crime. This means that a crime has occurred once a person, man or woman, engages in a sexual act with a minor. Therefore, thinking the minor was actually of the age of consent will not be a recognized defense. With statutory rape, it does not matter whether or not you intended to have sexual relations with a minor; you are presumed liable for your actions regardless of your intent or thought process. There is one exception to the Statutory Rape Statute and that is if there is consent and the adult is less than years older than the minor. The bottom line is if you want to know how old a young woman is you should probably ask her mother!
Penalties for Statutory Rape
If an adult is found to have engaged in sexual acts with a minor, he or she could face the following charges and penalties:
- Aggravated Sexual Assault: this is charged when the minor is under the age of fourteen and there is penetration; even minimal penetration counts. In Texas, aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony. If convicted, the adult charged will face a minimum sentence of five years in prison.
- Sexual Assault: this is charged when the minor is under the age of seventeen and the adult charged is three or more years older than the minor. Sexual assault is a second-degree felony in Texas. If convicted, the minimum sentence is two years in prison. This charge carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison.
- Indecency with a Child: for this charge, penetration is not required. In fact, any sexual act, even over clothing, between an adult three years or older than a minor under the age of seventeen falls into this crime category. If found guilty, the adult faces a minimum of two and a maximum of twenty years in prison.
The Sex Offender Registration
In addition to jail time, Texas law requires that persons convicted of the above-mentioned crimes be included in the state’s sex offender registry.
The stigma that comes with an allegation for these crimes can follow a person for a lifetime. Often times, a person charged with sexually assaulting a minor is found guilty in the court of public opinion well before their day in court. As such, if charged with a sex crime against a minor, it is advised to find an experienced attorney who can vigorously defend you and your name at trial.
At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we have experienced attorneys who are ready and willing to help you defend against these charges and assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome. Contact us by calling (281) 280-0100. We have evening, weekend, as well as off-site appointments available by request.