Most sex crimes in Texas are prosecuted as felony offenses, which carry mandatory jail time and sometimes the requirement of registration as a sex offender. Some sex crimes, however, namely those that don’t involve violence or penetrative sexual contact, can be charged as misdemeanors, which means that a defendant could receive probation instead of jail time and may be able to avoid sex offender registration. To learn more about which sex crimes can be charged as misdemeanor-level offenses and whether you could qualify for a reduction of your charges, please reach out to our experienced sex crimes lawyers in Galveston, League City or Galveston today.
Determining the Severity of a Texas Sex Crime
Although all sex crimes are serious offenses, the specific severity of a sex crime charge actually depends on a number of factors, including:
- The sexual act in question, including whether the act involved sexual touching;
- The defendant’s age, as being a minor is often considered a mitigating factor in prosecuting sex offenses;
- The victim’s age, with most offenses involving minors, charged as felonies;
- The victim’s relationship with the defendant, including whether the defendant was in a position of authority over the victim, or whether the parties were in a consensual romantic relationship; and
- Whether the defendant has a criminal history of committing sex crimes.
Prosecuting sex crimes is largely subjective, so the severity of charges and sentencing are often left to the discretion of the state. This subjectivity, however, means that it is even more important for defendants to have a skilled attorney on their side who can advocate on their behalf.
Sex Crimes Charged as Misdemeanors
There are a number of different sex crimes that are typically charged as misdemeanors in Texas. Public lewdness, for example, which involves allegations of engaging in sexual acts in a public place, is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which comes with a potential one-year prison sentence and a $4,000 fine.
Someone accused of indecent exposure, which occurs when someone allegedly exposes him or herself in a reckless manner, will usually face Class B misdemeanor charges, unless the defendant has a prior criminal record, or committed the offense in the presence of a minor. Class B misdemeanors are typically punishable by a $2,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Other sex crimes that are commonly charged as Class B misdemeanors include:
- Prostitution, unless the defendant has a prior criminal record;
- Solicitation of prostitution, unless a defendant has prior solicitation convictions; and
- Harassment, unless a defendant has a prior criminal record of harassment.
Voyeurism, which occurs when a person observes someone else without his or her consent in a dwelling or other location where the victim can reasonably expect privacy, on the other hand, is a Class C misdemeanor offense, which means that defendants can usually avoid jail time, unless they have two or more prior voyeurism convictions, or if the victim was under the age of 14 years old. Non-consensual sexual contact is also a Class C misdemeanor unless the victim was a child or disabled.
Were You Accused of a Sex Crime in Texas?
Even misdemeanor sex offense convictions can destroy personal relationships and careers, so if you have been accused of committing a sex offense, please call The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 280-0100 to learn more about defending yourself against these types of serious accusations.