Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer
Facing any type of criminal charge can have a significant impact on you and your family. But sex crimes cases are especially traumatic, as they carry a social stigma that is often not erased even if the charges are dropped or the accused is found not guilty. That is why it is incumbent upon you to be proactive in fighting any allegations involving rape, prostitution, or sex crimes involving minors.
At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we have nearly two decades of experience in defending residents of Houston and the surrounding area against a wide range of sex crimes allegations. Attorney Tad Nelson is a former prosecutor himself, and he understands how local district attorneys and judges approach these cases. He and his team will put that knowledge to work for you if you are accused of any of the following criminal offenses:
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Attempted Sexual Assault
- Burglary With Intent to Commit Sexual Assault
- Indecent Exposure
- Internet Sex Crimes
- Online Solicitation of a Minor
- Public Lewdness
- Rape (Sexual Assault)
- Possession of child pornography
- Sexual Assault of a Child
- Solicitation of Prostitution
- Sexually Oriented Business (SOB)
Sex Crimes FAQs
What is a Sex Crime?
Sex crimes are offenses that are charged for any violent sexual act when there is a lack of consent from one party, or when an individual engages in any sexual act with a minor, someone who is deemed incapable of giving consent.
These offenses are taken very seriously and the penalties can be severe. For this reason, even simple allegations of a sexual offense are not taken lightly by the law. If you were wrongly accused of a sexual offense, you need a sex crimes attorney to stand up and fight for you.
What Factors Determine the Severity of a Sex Crime Conviction?
Most sex crimes in Texas are categorized as felonies and offenders could spend up to 25 years in prison and remain registered as a sex offender for the rest of their life.
Factors that go into determining the severity of the penalties include the following:
- The age of the alleged victim;
- Your age at the time;
- Your past convictions;
- Your criminal history, and
- Any other specific circumstances in your case.
Depending on the severity of your offense, hiring an experienced sex crimes lawyer can help you minimize the penalties you may face.
What Are Felony and Misdemeanor Consequences of Sex Crimes in Texas?
What are the consequences of a sex crimes conviction in Texas? In general, sex crimes consequences across the country are taken very seriously. The repercussions of a sex offense conviction in Texas are particularly severe. While the specific penalties for sex offenses will depend upon the particular offense and whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, you will likely face jail time, a substantial monetary fine, and other significant repercussions. Our Texas sex crimes defense attorneys want to provide you with more general information about the consequences of a sex crimes conviction under the Texas Penal Code.
Misdemeanor Penalties for Sex Crimes in Texas
Generally speaking, most sex crimes in Texas will be prosecuted as felony offenses, but there are some types of sex crimes offenses that may be charged as misdemeanors. Examples of misdemeanor sex offenses may include but are not limited to:
- Indecent exposure, which is typically a Class B misdemeanor unless it is a subsequent offense;
- Voyeurism, which is typically charged as a Class C misdemeanor;
- Prostitution, which is usually charged as a Class B misdemeanor, but it can be a Class A misdemeanor or state jail felony depending upon whether the defendant has a prior conviction on his or her record;
- Solicitation, which is typically a Class B misdemeanor;
- Public lewdness, which is typically a Class A misdemeanor in Texas;
- Harassment, which may be sexual in nature, is usually charged as a Class B misdemeanor; and
- Offensive sexual contact, which is typically a Class C misdemeanor.
Any of the charges above can be increased to a more serious misdemeanor charge (i.e., from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor) or from a misdemeanor to a felony if the defendant has a prior history of a sex crime conviction, or if other aggravating factors are present. These are the typical statutory penalties:
- Class C misdemeanor: Fine of up to $500;
- Class B misdemeanor: Fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail; and
- Class A misdemeanor: Fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
Felony Penalties for Texas Sex Crimes
Most other sex offenses, including sexual assault charges, statutory rape, rape, and related charges will be felony offenses in Texas. Felony sex crimes convictions come with the following statutory penalties:
- State jail felony: Anywhere from 180 days to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000;
- Third-degree felony: Anywhere from 2 to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000;
- Second-degree felony: Anywhere from 2 to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000; and
- First-degree felony: Anywhere from 5 to 99 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Consequences Beyond Your Sentence
Beyond a monetary fine and a term of imprisonment, a sex crimes conviction will usually require you to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program. In addition, as a registered sex offender, you can be limited in terms of the areas where you can live, the types of jobs you may be eligible to perform, and other social consequences.
How Long Will a Sex Crime Stay on My Record?
In most cases, when someone is convicted of a sexual offense they remain a sex offender for the rest of their life. However, depending on how serious the offense is, it could only remain on your record for 10 years.
It may be possible to completely avoid registering as a sex offender if you apply for an “individual risk assessment”, where a Texas court will review your criminal history, the severity of the alleged offense, and determine how likely you are to commit another sexual offense again. If the determination is no, then you will not have to register as a sex offender.
Can I Have My Sex Offense Records Sealed?
It is possible to have your sex offense records sealed in the state of Texas. However, you must meet the following criteria:
- If the offense was minor and didn’t involve violence
- If the victim was 15 years of age or older
- If you were no more than 4 years older than the victim
- If the offense was consensual
- If you pass an individual risk assessment and request early termination
This process can be very difficult to maneuver on your own, so it is in your best interest to seek legal help. For more information, contact an expungement attorney.
Why Should I Hire a Sex Crimes Attorney?
When you are facing a sex crime charge or allegation, it can take a toll on your life and the life of those close to you. There is a stigma that follows those who have committed a sexual offense or simply just accused of one. That is why it is a good idea to immediately seek legal help when facing sexual offense charges.
An good sex crimes lawyer can fight for you to reduce charges, prove your innocence, or minimize the impact a sexual offense charge can have on your life. If you have been charged with or accused of committing a sex crime, The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your case.
A Sex Crimes Conviction Will Follow You For Life
Beyond the immediate criminal penalties for a conviction, notably a lengthy prison sentence, many sex crimes convictions in Texas will also require you to register as a sex offender with local authorities–potentially for the rest of your life. Many people do not appreciate this reality when first accused. Indeed, many accused individuals falsely assume a “registered sex offender” must be a hard-core rapist. But the Texas sex offender registry is quite broad and includes offenses like indecent exposure.
In addition, the Law Offices of Tad Nelson understands that in many cases, a person is the victim of false allegations of sexual misconduct. We often see this is family law situations, where an estranged spouse may falsely accuse the other of sexual assault–against them or a child–in a misguided attempt to gain the upper hand in a divorce or child custody proceeding. Whatever the scenario, we always take an aggressive approach to contesting false allegations where there is often no evidence beyond the accuser’s uncorroborated statements.
Strategies for Defending Sex Crimes Charges in Texas
Being accused of a sex offense in Texas can not just be life-changing; it can potentially ruin many aspects of life if you are convicted. Unfortunately, due to their nature, police, prosecutors, and other members of the criminal justice community vigorously prosecute sex crimes cases. The Texas Department of Public Safety reports that there are around 14,775 rapes committed every year, a category that includes sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and various offenses involving minors. If you were arrested, you face jail time and fines depending on the nature of the charges. Plus, you will be required to register as a sex offender long after you serve your sentence.
Texas Sex Crimes Defense Strategies
Under these circumstances, it is clear that retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical. There are multiple tactics for fighting sex offense charges, and your first opportunities to do so arise very early in your case. Your Houston sex crimes lawyer will develop a wide array of defense strategies for protecting your rights, such as:
Exercising Your Rights: The first defense strategy in a criminal case starts with you since you are the one who will need to exercise your rights under the US and Texas Constitutions. From your initial encounter with police, do not make any statements, answer questions, or provide information to officers. Your right to remain silent is critical, even if you want to express your innocence. Your right to counsel is another critical issue, so contact our team of attorneys immediately.
Use Tactics That Consider the Source: False allegations of sex crimes are usually motivated by some underlying factor or issue, so your defense strategy should incorporate these collateral matters. This is especially true when an arrest for a sexual offense is linked to:
- A divorce case;
- Child custody, visitation, and support proceedings;
- The accuser’s financial circumstances or desire to cover up a consensual encounter;
- A minor accuser who may be susceptible to suggestions by others who seek your conviction.
Challenge the Prosecutor’s Evidence: The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard in the entire US judicial system. Meeting this burden requires solid, accurate proof, and this can be difficult to obtain due to the nature of sex offenses. Therefore, your defense strategy revolves around exposing weaknesses in the prosecutor’s evidence, such as defects in the chain of custody for DNA samples or inconsistent statements by your accuser. These challenges can be made by working closely with our criminal defense attorney. Our team will dedicate our time to building a strong defense and studying your case to be ready to challenge accusations that may not hold much ground.
In addition, you may have grounds to have inadmissible evidence tossed out of court if it was obtained through a violation of your civil rights or other police misconduct.
Raise Defenses: When it is your turn to present your case, you may also have defenses that could result in acquittal or dismissal of the charges. Examples include mistaken identity, consent, or lack of intent. Working with our team can find all possible defenses for your case to work to have the charges dropped or reduced.
Work With a Board Certified Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
Also remember, anyone may be accused of a sex crime, including women and juveniles. And once you are formally charged, the media and the public are likely to assume that you must be guilty. The only thing that may be standing between you and a conviction is the assistance of a qualified Houston sex crimes defense lawyer. Even if you only suspect you are under investigation for a sex crime, call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today at (281) 280-0100 to speak with an attorney right away.
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