August 1, 2018
Criminal offenses involving sexual misconduct, sexual assault, illegal pornography, or unlawful sexual behavior fall under the umbrella of sex crimes, which come with serious consequences.
Sex crimes are harshly prosecuted in all states, but Texas prosecutes sex crimes more aggressively than many other states, particularly those committed against minors. If you are charged with a sex crime, you face a long prison sentence and possible registration as a sex offender.
Below, we’re going to cover common sex crimes in the state of Texas, as well as the sex offender registration process.
Sexual assault, commonly referred to as rape, occurs when the defendant knowingly and intentionally commits a penetrative sexual act without the victim’s consent.
The defendant may force the defendant to submit by physical force or threats of physical force. Alternatively, if the victim is considered unable to give consent, for example if the victim is incapacitated at the time of the sex act, this would also be considered sexual assault, even if force is not used.
In Texas, sexual assault is considered a second-degree felony. Certain aggravating factors such as causing the victim serious bodily harm, threatening the victim’s life, using a deadly weapon, or acting with another person to commit sexual assault can elevate the charge to aggravated sexual assault, which is a first-degree felony.
Sex with a Minor
The age of consent in Texas is 17. If an adult engages in any form of sexual activity with a minor, this could result in a charge of sex with a minor. However, if the defendant is less than three years older than the alleged victim at the time of the offense, this can be used as an affirmative defense.
Sex with a minor is charged as a second or third-degree felony in Texas. Importantly, even if the defendant is a girlfriend or boyfriend of the minor victim, sexual activity is still a criminal act.
Child pornography offenses are increasing, making this crime a priority for state and federal law enforcement. This means that more efforts will be made to catch people who are in possession of or are promoting child pornography.
A defendant can be convicted of the possession or promotion of child pornography if they are found to be in possession of any visual image of a child under 18 engaged in sexual activity. Importantly, if the defendant is in an intimate relationship with a minor and exchanges explicit images, such as by “sexting,” this could result in a child pornography charge.
In Texas, child pornography is considered a second-degree felony. Moreover, if the offense involved receiving or distributing child pornography over state lines, for example online, the case will likely be prosecuted federally.
Indecent exposure involves exposing the genitals, anus, or breasts to another person. This can include acts such as urinating in public, flashing, or tanning topless outside. However, an attorney may be able to get these charges dismissed if it can be proven that the defendant did not knowingly and intentionally commit the offense.
Sex Offender Registration in Texas
One of the most devastating consequences of a sex crime conviction is the requirement to register as a sex offender. Any adult or juvenile convicted of a sex offense will be required to register as a sex offender, and to report to the police station intermittently to ensure their information is up to date.
The Texas sex offender registry is a public database, and is maintained for the purpose of making the public aware of sex offenders who live near them. Your friends, neighbors, and employers will be able to look up your picture, name, address, and the details of the crime you were convicted of.
If you’re not sure whether or not something may constitute a sex crime in our state, it is best to exercise caution and research the law ahead of time.
About the Author:
Jeff Hampton has been practicing law in Texas in 2005, first in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor, and now as a private attorney with the Hampton Eppes Law Group, protecting the rights of Texans who have suffered injury due to negligence or are facing criminal charges. His success in helping people with their legal troubles has been recognized by clients and peers alike, with a Top Attorney designation and 10/10 Superb Rating on Avvo, and a place on the National Trial Lawyers list of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers.