It is not uncommon for people to be charged with a sex crime regardless of their intent, especially if there is confusion amongst the parties about what qualifies as consent. For this reason, having an understanding of what consent means under Texas law is crucial, including how a person’s age or intoxication level could affect consent that is actually obtained. To learn more about these kinds of allegations and how the issue of consent could affect your own case, please call our experienced Houston sex crimes lawyers today.
When a person chooses to engage in a sexual act with someone else, consent is what determines whether that interaction was illegal. Under Texas law, consent is defined as assent in fact, whether express or apparent. Essentially, a person has given consent when he or she has agreed to move forward with a sexual act. This consent can be expressly stated in words or even made apparent by one’s actions. While a lack of consent can be clearly communicated, determining whether someone has given apparent consent can be a more complicated process. Often, it is in these types of cases that sex crime charges are levied against unsuspecting individuals.
How Age Affects Consent
Some individuals cannot legally give their consent to a sexual act. In Texas, this includes anyone who is under the age of 17 years old. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, the state’s Romeo and Juliet law states that anyone between 14 and 17 years of age can give consent if the other party is within three years of their age.
Intoxication and Consent
Like age, intoxication can affect a person’s ability to consent to a sexual act. For instance, under Texas law, a person is not able to give consent if he or she:
- Has been administered a mind-altering substance;
- Is unconscious; or
- Is intoxicated to the point of being unable to make a reasonable decision.
A person who has a mental disease or defect is also legally unable to consent to sexual activity with another person.
Non-Consensual Sex Crimes
Having non-consensual sexual relations with someone is unlawful and can lead to a number of different charges, including: solicitation, sexual assault, indecent exposure, and prostitution. The specific crime a person is charged with and the severity of the penalties that come with a conviction, however, will depend on a number of factors, including the parties’ ages, whether the accused used force, and whether either party was intoxicated at the time of the sexual encounter.
Were You Charged with a Sex Crime in Texas?
Many of those who are accused of non-consensual-based sex offenses are blindsided by the allegations. Individuals who find themselves in this situation do not, however, have to go through the legal process alone. Please call us at (281) 280-0100 today to learn more about how one of the dedicated Houston sex crimes lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates could help with your own case.