When a person is accused of a criminal offense involving a sex crime, the stakes are higher than in case where a person was charged with a non-sexual crime excluding murder.
- For sexual assault victims under the age of 17, this charge is considered a second-degree felony, which carries a possible penalty of 2-20 years in prison, and/or may include a fine of up to $10,000.
- For sexual assault victims under the age of 14, this offense is usually considered a first-degree felony, which could result in a prison term of up to 99 years and/or may include a fine of up to $10,000.
- Indecency with a child that involves sexual contact, such as touching or fondling, is considered a second-degree felony. To qualify, this act cannot involve threats, force, or duress. The accused must be at least 17 years old, and the victim must be younger than 14 years old. This charge carries a potential prison sentence of 2-20 years, and/or may include a fine of up to $10,000.
- Indecency with a child where exposure of the genitals is involved. This act may involve an adult exposing their genitals while a child is present or a child is encouraged to expose their genitals. This offense is considered a third-degree felony, which carries a possible prison term of 2-10 years, and/or may include a fine of up to $10,000.
- In cases where continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 is involved, this offense involves two or more alleged acts of child sexual abuse over the course of 30 days or more. As part of Jessica’s Law, this offense is considered a first-degree felony, which carries a potential prison sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
A review of the Texas Penal Code will familiarize interested parties with the various definitions of sexual offenses and how the acts constitute crimes under law. The punishments and penalties associated with these transgressions can be very severe and often carry long-term personal, as well as, professional ramifications, regardless of the accused’s guilt or innocence. Moreover, if convicted, the perpetrator could face a much harsher sentence if additional charges are levied, a child is involved, the crime(s) was/were violent in nature, and/or the criminal actions resulted in grievous bodily harm or injury.
For sex crimes involving minors, it applies to any child under the age of 17. However, if the child was under the age of 14, the penalties are often more severe. These are referred to as “aggravated” circumstances and also apply to situations where a weapon was used or violence occurred, if the victim suffered bodily harm, and/or they were threatened with serious bodily injury.
Overview of Texas Sex Crime Offenses
Under Texas law, sex crimes and/or sexually related criminal offenses cover a wide array of different circumstances. They all involve a variety of different punishments as well as other possible ramifications and corresponding charges, whether a conviction for the crimes occurs or not. Case in point, for sex crimes involving children, the punishment will usually require the convicted individual(s) to register as a sex offender and be placed on the sex offenders’ registry. Meanwhile, those who commit aggravated sexual assaults and/or rapes can face various felony charges and, if convicted, they can be sentenced to long prison terms.
Here is a breakdown of sex crimes that face criminal prosecution in Texas:
- Possession of pornography
- Possession of child pornography
- Promotion of child pornography
Depending on the particulars involved, there may also be additional, corresponding criminal charges under federal law. This is because federal and state law enforcement agencies forge a cooperative effort to outline and prosecute sex crimes. For instance, Megan’s Law, which resulted in the implementation of a nationwide sex offender registry, and Amber Alerts, which lead to the public broadcasting of missing children bulletins, both originated as federal laws, and they now have state law components in Texas, as well as the other 49 states.
A Closer Look at Sexual Assault in Texas
The state of Texas is the nation’s central hub for human trafficking. Since Texas hold this unique position, sexual assault can be a big problem for the area. The reason being is that human trafficking leads to prostitution, which then leads to people being assaulted. This is especially true for minors who are forced into this lifestyle.
The rate of sexual assault is high in Texas because of these circumstances. The city of Houston experiences a lot of sexual assault (aggravated or otherwise) because it is a training area for prostitutes who are connected to human trafficking rings.
Once again, females in families and society are generally targeted for sexual assault. Wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters and female relatives are preyed upon for various reasons by offenders. Often times, many women are abused as children into adulthood without anyone knowing what is going on.
There is no statue of limitations for sexual assaults (of any kind) carried out against a child. The same holds true for adults with some exceptions. A person who claims to have been sexually assaulted as an adult must prove that this situation took place within the last 10 years if they want a conviction. Remember evidence and motives are key to proving a case. Without these critical elements, a person would merely be making unfound accusations.