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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
Being charged with a sex crime can be embarrassing, stressful, and damaging to your family and your career. Even mere allegations of involvement in sex offenses can be destructive to your reputation in the community. As a result, it can be very important to seek the services of an Austin sex crimes lawyer if you are facing charges.
A conviction for a sex offense can mean a permanent criminal record, loss of civil rights, and mandated registration as a sex offender. Anyone who is facing sex crime charges should take the charges very seriously and should strongly consider consulting an aggressive defense lawyer for advice.
Sexual Assault Offenses in Austin
Texas law provides for a wide range of sexual-based offenses, some of which are very serious charges with potentially harsh penalties. Tex. Pen. Code § 22.011 establishes the offense of sexual assault, which occurs when individuals have sexual contact or penetration without consent or when the target of the assault is a minor. In many situations, this offense is referred to as rape.
This section goes on to set forth various situations that indicate a lack of consent on the part of the target of the alleged assault. Generally, if the targets of the alleged assault are forced or threatened to participate or unconscious, physically incapacitated, drugged without their knowledge, or suffering from a mental defect, they cannot consent to the sexual activity. Consent also may be lacking in situations in which the individuals accused of the assault hold certain positions of power or authority over the alleged targets, such as in the case of police officers or health care providers.
Sexual assault typically is charged as a second-degree felony, which can result in a prison sentence of between two and 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. These are very severe penalties that may impact individuals for the remainder of their lives, anyone charged with sexual assault may wish to consult a sex crimes lawyer in Austin.
When Are Charges Considered Aggravated?
In some cases, certain aggravating factors in a sexual assault lead to charges of aggravated sexual assault. Some of the situations described that constitute aggravated sexual assault under Tex. Pen. Code § 22.021 include offenses that:
- Result in serious bodily injury or attempts to cause death
- Involve threats to inflict serious bodily injuries, subject individuals to certain criminal offenses, cause imminent death or carry out a kidnapping
- Include the usage or exhibition of a deadly weapon
- Involve subjects who are elderly, disabled, or minors under the age of 14
Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony that can result in a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years. The mandatory minimum prison sentence may increase to 25 years, depending on the age of the parties involved.
Other Crimes That Fall Into This Category
Some sex offenses involve only minors. These offenses include continuous sexual abuse of young children, indecency with a child, improper relationship between educator and student, and sexual performance by a child. All these offenses are felonies and can result in substantial prison terms, high fines, and mandatory sex offender registration.
Other sexually-based criminal offenses can involve minors or adults. Some of these offenses have harsher potential penalties if they involve minors. These offenses include prostitution, solicitation, sexual coercion, unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material, invasive visual recording, indecent exposure, and public lewdness. All of these can result in a range of felony and misdemeanor charges.
Call an Austin Sex Crimes Attorney for Advice
The stakes are extremely high in sex crimes cases, as a conviction on any of these offenses can result in lengthy terms of incarceration and required sex offender registration. When you are facing any type of sex offense charges, it may be beneficial for you to discuss your situation with an Austin sex crimes lawyer.
Engaging legal representation from the outset of your case can be essential to building a strong defense and working to defeat the charges against you. Call today to begin building your defense.