Adults face serious criminal consequences if they engage in sex with a person under the age of consent, regardless of whether that minor agreed to have sex. The age of consent where a person can consent to sexual activity is 17 years old in Texas.
A person may be prosecuted for several sex offenses involving statutory rape by engaging in consensual sexual intercourse with a person below the Texas age of consent.
Texas does not have a close in age exception, commonly known as a Romeo and Juliet law, which are intended to prevent prosecution of individuals who engaged in consensual sex when they are close in age and one of the participants is under 17.
It is possible that two individuals who are under 17 may be prosecuted for statutory rape. But these prosecutions are rare.
There are no exclusions for sexual activity where one participant is 16 and the other is 17 or 18. Texas provides a defense from prosecution, however, where the offender was no more than three years older than the victim and is the opposite gender.
Sexual intercourse is also prohibited between a school employee and a student unless they are married. No age of consent exists for this offense.
Sexual abuse charges
Texas has five sexual abuse charges used to prosecute statutory rape charges. Classification of the criminal charge as a felony or misdemeanor depends on the alleged acts and the ages of the accused offender and victim.
The offenses of aggravated sexual assault and continuous sexual abuse of young child or children are felonies of the first degree. These crimes are punishable by a maximum life term in prison and maximum fine of $10,000.
Sexual assault is also a felony of the first degree with the same penalties. The offense involves a person marrying or living with a person whom the offender was prohibited from living under the guise of being married.
The offense of indecency with a child, typically involving touching or exposing intimate body parts, may be a felony of the second or third degree. The second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000. A sentence for a third-degree felony involves up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Prohibited sexual contact is a felony of the second or third degree. The offense includes sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with the offender’s ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption. It has the same punishment as an indecency with child offense.
Anyone accused of these crimes should seek immediate legal representation. Attorneys can help protect your rights.