When it comes to being charged with a crime, one of the most life-altering charges is a sex crime. Not only will you face being punished by the court system, jail time, and fines, you are likely to be ostracized by society. This bias starts before you even step into the courtroom. Your reputation, in the eyes of the jury and your peers, is going to take a big hit, regardless of whether you are guilty or not.
Don’t let the prosecution, society, or anyone else determine you are guilty before you even get to have a fair trial. At Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC, our attorneys know that individuals are not defined by the viewpoint and opinions of others, but it is the truth of their actions and how they choose to face circumstances that truly define who they are. Because of this core belief, our team fights so hard for our clients. We believe that all human beings, regardless of background or accusations, have a right to a fair trial. Let our team be the ones to help guide you through the legal process, be your voice and your advocate, and help you reach the best possible outcome.
What Are the Different Types of Sex Crimes?
By law, sexual assault involves any sexual act with a minor under the age of 17 or any sexual act committed without the victim’s consent. For minors, lack of consent is automatically presumed due to the victim’s age. This is true for both minors and adults if violence or threats were used to force an individual into committing sexual acts. Another way that lack of consent is automatically presumed is when the victim is threatened, physically attacked, drugged, or incapacitated for any reason, and is a part of a sexual act.
The charge can be elevated to aggravated sexual assault if the following is true:
- The perpetrator inflicted serious bodily injury on the victim.
- The perpetrator attempted to kill the victim.
- The perpetrator caused the victim to fear that serious bodily injury or death would occur to them due to threats made.
- A deadly weapon was used during the commission of the sexual act.
- The perpetrator exhibited or threatened to use a deadly weapon.
- Date rape drugs or other illicit substances were used during the commission of the sex crime.
- The perpetrator committed the act along with another person/persons.
For cases where the victim is a minor under the age of 14, the individual is mentally or physically disabled, or they are elderly, the criminal charge will most likely be elevated to aggravated sexual assault.
Child Sexual Abuse
The Texas Family Code defines child sexual abuse as the following:
- Any sexual conduct that is harmful to the child’s mental, emotional, or physical state, including but not limited to offenses of continuous sexual abuse of a young child, indecency with a child, child sexual assault, and aggravated child sexual assault.
- Failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child
- Encouraging, forcing, or permitting a child to engage in sexual conduct, including conduct such as trafficking of persons, prostitution, or compelling prostitution.
- Encouraging, forcing, or permitting a child to be allowed in photographs or films that are obscene or pornographic.
- Causing, permitting, encouraging, or engaging in a child being trafficked. This also includes failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent the child from being trafficked.
Continuous Sexual Abuse
Continuous sexual abuse, according to Texas sex offense laws, is when an individual over the age of 17 engages in two or more acts of sexual abuse outside of a 30-day period. For these cases, the jury does not have to unanimously agree on which type of sexual abuse was committed by the defendant or when these criminal acts occurred. They only have to prove that there were at least two sexual acts outside of a 30-day period. It is important to ensure that you have an experienced continuous sexual abuse defense attorney on your side, to ensure that the jury can look at you through unbiased eyes instead of assuming you are already guilty.
Several actions are considered child sexual abuse under Texas law. Because of the child’s age, they are unable to consent to any form of sexual activity. The following are common forms of child sexual abuse:
- Touching the child’s genitals or breasts
- Exposing oneself to a minor
- Forcing a minor to masturbate or masturbating in the presence of a child
- Allowing or forcing a minor to watch a sexual act
- Obscene phone calls, texts, or emails with a minor
- Exposing a minor to sexual videos, games, or images
- Intercourse or any form of sex
- All sexual conduct that threatens a child’s mental, physical, or emotional health.
Solicitation and Prostitution
Soliciting prostitution is considered a state jail felony in the state of Texas. If the accused individual has a prior conviction of soliciting prostitution, the individual could face a third-degree felony.
Solicitation of a minor includes attempting to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce any person under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activities by using any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce. In layman’s terms, this simply means the usage of a computer, a tablet, or a cellphone.
For an individual to be charged with the solicitation or prostitution of a minor, it has to be proven that the individual did the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- They knowingly attempted to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce the minor to engage in any sexual activity.
- They used the internet, a cell phone, or another facility or paid to perform these acts.
- They believed the individual was less than 18 years of age.
If the sexual activity were to occur or did occur, the defendant could be charged with a criminal offense under the Texas state law or the laws of the state in which the communication occurred.
Indecency With a Child
If the individual exposed themself to a minor, (which is defined as a child who is 16 or younger), then that indecent exposure may be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. A conviction for a third-degree felony may carry the following penalties:
- A jail sentence of up to 10 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
The Texas Penal Code 42.072 states that it is illegal for an individual to engage in a pattern of repeated behavior that is directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. If the individual makes threats, including injuring, killing, or threatening to injure a member of the victim’s family or household, or someone they are dating, the charge can be increased. If you are being charged with stalking, you will want to ensure you have a strong defense attorney on your side to ensure that your side is heard.
Public lewdness refers to engaging in sexual activity in public places. The law specifically claims the following as public lewdness:
- Sexual intercourse in public
- Deviate sexual intercourse
- Sexual conduct
- Any contact between a person’s mouth or genitals and the anus of an animal or fowl
While public lewdness may seem like it only refers to public places or areas where there is public access, including common areas of an apartment community, it also can include private areas. For instances of a private area, such as an individual’s own home, it needs to take place where another individual would be offended, such as by an open window or in plain sight of another person’s home or property.
Indecent exposure refers to exposing oneself in public. This is generally considered a class B misdemeanor but the charges can be raised if the indecent exposure was directed toward a child.
What Are the Penalties for Sex Crimes in Texas?
Depending on the severity of the facts of the case, an individual being charged with a sex crime can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have been convicted of a sex crime in the state of Texas, you could be facing the following penalties:
- Class C misdemeanor can lead to a fine of up to $500
- Class B misdemeanor can lead up to a fine of $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail
- Class A misdemeanor can lead up to 1 year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines
- State jail felony can result in 180-2 years in state jail and a fine up to $10,000
- Third-degree felony can result in 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony can result in 2-20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- First-degree felony can result in 5-99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
The Sex Crime Defense Attorney That Will Stand for Your Rights
It is extremely stressful to find oneself accused of a sex crime. You or your loved one may be feeling defensive, embarrassed, ashamed, or even uncertain about their future. However, one of the worst things an individual can do is to try and navigate the legal system on their own. The attorneys at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC are dedicated to protecting the rights and voice of our clients, by fighting hard to ensure your side is told. We know that every individual, no matter the allegations against them, has a right to a fair trial. We work hard to create a defense that ensures that you cannot get bullied by the prosecution. Contact us today for more information on our services to schedule a complimentary consultation to go over the facts of your case.
Tarrant County Resources for Sex Crimes
New Name Ministries — New Name is a Texas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing community safe residential reentry services for convicted sex offenders. New Name offers assistance in job placement, life skills, mentoring accountability, and building healthy relationships. You can learn more about the organization’s history and services on the website as well as its vision, mission, and goals.
Texas ReEntry Services, Inc. (TXRS) — TXRS is a nonprofit organization that “has developed a wrap-around style of services for persons coming out of incarceration that assists with the reintegration needs of the individual through intensive case management services in order to ease the transition for ex-offenders into mainstreet society.” You can learn more about its intake case management, free-for-life, and mental health/substance abuse services on this website. Employment services at TXRS include an intensive three-day job training program designed to address many of the barriers encountered by ex-offenders when seeking employment.
Texas Public Sex Offender Registry — Texas DPS maintains a sex offender registry list. This allows for searching for sex offenders in Tarrant County, Parker County and Johnson County.
Each case is different and will need to be handled with strategies and an approach that makes sense for the case. Here are the most common strategies for defending against a sex crime:
Innocence: One of the most basic techniques is to prove that you did not commit the crime. To prove this, it is important to establish that the complaint has no credibility and cannot be trusted, or that the alleged offender was in a different location at the time the crime occurred. This can be proven with witness testimony, also known as an alibi.
There Was a Motive to Lie: In some cases, a sex crime may turn into a hearsay argument. These cases often have the accuser’s motivations for charging the defendant with committing the sex crime being closely examined. Expert witness testimony and a thorough investigation can be used to find evidence that would undermine the prosecution’s case.
Tainted Evidence: When it comes to child sex crime cases, the evidence can often be “tainted” due to biases around the situations and misleading interviews. Due to the emotional nature of the case, most adults don’t realize that the questions they are asking are leading or suggestive. Examples of these questions are as follows: “He touched you here, didn’t he?” “They took bad pictures of you, right?”
Motion to Suppress Evidence: When the police do a search and seizure, they have to follow strict laws to only obtain evidence relative to the case. These items can include photos, a computer, records, and other files. However, if the police fail to follow the right procedures when it comes to gathering evidence, then these items can be suppressed or not used against you in court. The motion to suppress is a protection of a defendant’s constitutional rights.
Lack of Medical Evidence/Scientific Evidence: In some cases, the lack of medical evidence to collaborate with the prosecution’s story can work in the defense’s favor. In many cases, lack of injuries, foul play, or DNA evidence makes their case look weak.
Mental Illnesses: Cases of mental illness or insanity can lead to a more lenient sentence from the jury or the judge since it can be shown that the defendant had no knowledge or understanding of the criminality of their actions.
Texas law allows for individuals who are on the Sex Offender Registry that meet certain conditions to petition to have their names removed from the list through a process known as “deregistration.” This process has multiple steps that need to be followed. This information can be found here in Texas’s Health and Human Services.
The four major sex offenses are as follows:
Rape: Penetration of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ or another person, without the consent of the victim.
Fondling: The touching of the private body parts of another person for sexual gratification without the consent of the victim.
Incest: Non-forcible sexual intercourse between a person who is related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
Statutory Rape: Non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.