Unlike many other types of crimes, sex offenses are usually charged as felonies. Felony sex crime convictions come with severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, as well as mandatory registration as a sex offender upon release. Those who are charged with aggravated sex crimes, however, face particularly harsh punishments, making it especially important for defendants who have been accused of committing an aggravated sex offense, to work with an experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer when crafting a defense.
Misdemeanor vs Felony Sex Crimes
Only a few sex offenses, such as public lewdness, indecent exposure, and some prostitution-related offenses are charged as misdemeanors. The remainder of most sex crimes are charged as felonies. This includes sexual assault, rape, possession of child pornography, solicitation of a minor, using the internet for illegal sexual conduct, and failing to register as a sex offender. The penalties for committing a felony offense are severe. Sexual assault, for instance, which is a second degree felony, comes with a recommended sentence of between two and 20 years in prison.
Aggravated Sex Offense Charges
Under Texas law, those who are charged with an aggravated sex crime are subject to even stricter penalties than those who are facing general charges. These kinds of enhanced charges tend to arise in specific circumstances, including:
- When drugs or alcohol were allegedly used to commit the offense;
- When the alleged victim is elderly, disabled, or younger than 14 years of age;
- When the accused threatened to or caused a serious bodily injury to the victim or a victim’s family member;
- When the crime happened during the commission of another criminal offense;
- When the accused allegedly used or exhibited a deadly weapon in the course of committing the offense;
- When the accused has a prior criminal record involving sex offense-related convictions; or
- When the defendant is accused of acting in concert with someone else who allegedly committed a sexual assault.
In these cases, a standard sexual offense, such as sexual assault, could be enhanced to an aggravated sexual assault charge. This means that unlike most sexual assault cases, the accused wouldn’t be facing second degree felony penalties if convicted. Instead, the charge could be increased to a first degree felony, which comes with a recommended sentence of at least five, but up to 99 years in prison.
Call Our Houston Legal Team Today
Sex crimes are some of the most heavily punished and stigmatized types of criminal offense with which a person can be charged in Texas. Those convicted of a sex offense, for instance, are usually required to register as a sex offender and may face discrimination from the community. Even being accused of a sex crime can have serious consequences for someone’s reputation. Presenting a strong defense is the best way to avoid being convicted of a crime you didn’t commit, so if you or a loved one were recently accused of aggravated sexual assault, or another sex crime, please call (281) 280-0100 to speak with one of the experienced Houston sex crimes lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates about your legal options.