Sexual assault is a serious criminal offense and is treated as such in the state of Texas. Those accused of sexual assault face severe penalties, making it important that alleged offenders understand their situation, the charges against them, defense options available and possible penalties and sentences.
Texas law and sexual assault charges
While this is not a simple crime, it will be described in simple terms. Texas law describes this act as being one without the consent of a victim. This could be due to the threat or use of physical violence or because the victim was physically unable to resist or appreciate the act due to voluntary or involuntary intoxication.
Charges could be elevated to an aggravated sexual assault if certain factors occurred during the commission of the act. This includes serious bodily injury of the victim, the attempted death of the victim, placing the victim in the fear of death, serious bodily harm or kidnapping, the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon, committing the act with another individual, the usage of a “date rape drug”, the victim being under the age of 14 or the victim is elderly or disabled.
Depending on the situation, one or more defenses could be applicable. However, defense options against sexual assault allegations will be discussed generally. Common defenses include evidencing their alibi, asserting misidentification, the alleged victim consent to the act, claiming insanity or mental incapacity, lack of intent, lack of knowledge or being of a certain age or the legal spouse of the minor involved.
Often, a sexual assault is charged as a second-degree felony, which carries a sentence of a prison term lasting between two and 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. If the offense is charged as a first-degree felony, this carries a 5-99-year prison term and a fine of up to $10,000. For aggravated sexual assault charges, this is classified as a first-degree felony that could involve a minimum prison sentence of 25 years.
A conviction of sexual assault could impact the accused for the rest of their life. As such, it is important to seek guidance from an experienced legal professional to ensure your rights are protected along with your reputation and freedom.