Under the sex crime laws in Texas, it is illegal for an adult or an individual older than 18 years to have sexual relations with a minor – regardless if the sex act is consensual or not. Breaking this law means that you have committed statutory rape.
Statutory Rape Basics and Penalties
Under Texas’ criminal law, statutory rape is sexual contact and sexual penetration between a minor and an adult. This crime includes the following categories:
- Aggravated Sexual Assault – This involves sexual penetration between an adult defendant and a minor under 14 years old. As a first-degree felony, this offense includes penalties of five to 99 years imprisonment.
- Sexual Assault – This involves sexual penetration between an adult defendant who is older than the victim by three years or more and a minor aged 17 years or younger. This is a second-degree felony and includes penalties of two years up to 20 years imprisonment.
- Indecency with a Child – This involves sexual contact — even with clothing on and meant to arouse a sexual need without penetration — between an adult defendant and a victim under 17 years old. As a second-degree felony, you may incur penalties of two years up to 20 years imprisonment.
Aside from imprisonment and applicable fines, the law requires that individuals convicted of specific sex crimes register themselves as sex offenders. As David A. Nachtigall notes, “A registered sex offender who fails to abide by registration requirements faces the possibility of felony criminal charges.”
Getting Legal Representation for a Statutory Rape Charge
If you are facing a charge of statutory rape, hire an experienced sex crime lawyer. An attorney can assess the merit of the case against you and aid in developing a defense strategy to your specific circumstances. An attorney can attempt negotiations with the prosecutor for lower penalties or a lesser charge. With a lawyer, you may have better chances of defending your case.