Houston Rape Attorney

Protecting Your Rights and Reputation After a Rape Charge — Houston, Galveston, League City, Texas

There are few crimes that carry as much of a negative (and permanent) social stigma as rape. Even murder–which can lead to the death penalty in Texas–often does not emotionally charge a community in the same way as sexual assault, particularly when the accuser is a child. As a result, people facing rape accusations often have to overcome an unusually high level of media and public backlash just to get a fair trial.

Faced with a rape charge, many people incorrectly assume they just need to “tell their side of the story” to the police or the media. But the reality is, once the police have you under investigation, the best thing you can do is assert your constitutional rights, both to remain silent and work with an experienced Houston rape defense attorney who has dealt with this situation before. At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, attorney Tad Nelson and his experienced criminal defense team are proud to provide forceful, aggressive representation for people accused of rape in the Houston, Galveston, and League City areas.

As a former prosecutor himself, attorney Tad Nelson knows how local district attorneys build their rape cases. More importantly, he understands how to contest weak allegations based on faulty or non-existent physical evidence and non-credible witness testimony. Indeed, false allegations of sexual misconduct are more common than you might think. We know how to thoroughly investigate a sexual assault case–including the accuser’s background–and prepare a thorough defense. Ideally, we can expose a false accusation early and convince the district attorney to drop the charges before making you and your family face the trauma of a public trial.

Understanding Statutory Rape Charges in Texas

You should know that the Texas Penal Code does not have specific statutory rape charges, but this does not mean that you cannot face charges for engaging in sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with a minor. Generally speaking, statutory rape is an offense involving sexual activity between a minor and an adult. Each state has its own laws pertaining to criminal charges for statutory rape and related offenses, and those laws can vary by state. For example, some states make it illegal for an adult of any age to engage in sexual acts with a minor, even if there is a very small age difference between the parties involved. Many other states consider the age difference between the parties, and the specific age of the minor.

Since Texas does not have a criminal offense that is specifically entitled “statutory rape,” it is essential to understand the charges you could face that are related to statutory rape and similar offenses in Houston and elsewhere in the state, as well as potential criminal defense strategies.

Dealing With Allegations of Rape, Statutory Rape & Date Rape

In Texas, rape is legally classified as sexual assault, which is defined in Section 22.011 of the Penal Code as intentionally or knowingly causing the “penetration” of another person’s sexual “anus or sexual organ” without their consent. Sexual assault also covers oral sex, i.e. penetrating the mouth with a sexual organ. Rape is generally tried as a second-degree felony for a first offense.

There are other terms you that may hear in connection with sexual assault, such as “date rape” or “statutory rape.” The former often refers to cases where a person is accused of administering a drug or other substance designed to “control the other person’s conduct.” The latter, statutory rape, means having sex with someone who is legally deemed too young to consent. In Texas, the age of consent is 17, although it may be a defense if the accused and the victim were not more than 3 years apart in age at the time of the alleged offense.

This is just one example of how rape laws in Texas are more complex than you might initially assume. It also emphasizes the importance of working with a rape defense lawyer who has an intimate understanding of these laws and can leverage them on your behalf. If you are accused of, or under investigation for, rape or any other sex crime, the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates can help. Contact us today at (281) 280-0100  if you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away.

*The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies attorneys in 20 specific areas of law; certification in any of these areas requires substantial demonstrated experience and skill, positive peer evaluations, ongoing legal education commitments, and the passage of a rigorous test.

Indecency with a Child

Under Section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can face charges of “indecency with a child” if that person engages in sexual contact with a child younger than 17 years of age, regardless of whether the parties know one another or believe themselves to be in a relationship with one another. This offense can also be charged if a person, with the “intent to arouse or gratify . . . sexual desire” exposes any part of their genitals or “causes the child,” who is under the age of 17, “to expose the child’s anus or any part of the child’s genitals.” The Texas Penal Code emphasizes that sexual contact goes beyond sexual intercourse, and that a person can face charges for any touching by a person, which includes touching through clothing.

In situations involving alleged sexual contact, the person charged will face a second-degree felony. In situations involving exposure, the person charged will face third-degree felony charges.

You should know that the Texas Penal Code expressly states that a person facing charges can use the defense that she or he was “not more than three years older than the victim” as long as the person facing charges did not use duress, force, or a threat against the minor. Mistaking the child’s age is not a valid defense.

Sexual Assault

Statutory rape-related charges in Texas can also occur under Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code as sexual assault. Sexual assault can be charged in any of the following scenarios involving a child under the age of 17 according to state law:

  • Penetrates the sexual organ of a child;
  • Penetrates the mouth of a child by a sexual organ;
  • Causes the sexual organ of a child to contact the mouth or sexual organ of another person; or
  • Causes the anus of a child to contact another person’s sexual organs.

Depending upon the specific circumstances, any of these acts also may be charged as aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021. A person charged will face second-degree or first-degree felony charges. Similar to the charge of indecency with a child, unknowingly engaging in any of these acts with a child under the age of 17, even if you believed the child to be 17 or older, is not a defense.

Seek Advice from a Texas Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer

Anyone who is facing crimes related to statutory rape should seek help with their defense from a Texas sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates for help.