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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
The area of the law under which crimes such as sexual abuse or assault, illegal pornography, unlawful sexual conduct with minors, rape, and prostitution fall is a broad one, and perhaps one of the most serious ones to confront as well.
While the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence is threatening in and of itself, it is perhaps the lifetime requirement that one register as a sex offender that makes a conviction for one of the aforementioned crimes an intimidating prospect, and the consequences of registration that make life more difficult for an offender.
That being said, if you or someone you know has been accused of a sex-related crime, seek the counsel of a Midland sex crimes lawyer before the case moves to trial to discuss the serious nature of their case in detail. En Español.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Sexual Crimes
When it comes to sex crimes in Texas, unlike other areas of the law, the majority of these types of offenses are considered to be felonies. The only sex-related offenses that generally fall into the category of misdemeanor infractions include publicly lewd behavior or indecent exposure, as well as prostitution and/or the solicitation of a prostitute. Therefore, among the offenses considered felonies, there are:
- Sexual assault
- Rape, including statutory rape and date rape
- Failing to register as a sex offender
- Child pornography
- Solicitation of a minor for sex
- Inappropriate use of a computer, the Internet, or a phone for illegal sexual conduct
Punishment for a felony charge of sexual assault in the second degree carries a recommended sentence of at least two years of imprisonment, but no more than 20 years. When it comes to sex crimes against minors, Texas is known for punishing those convicted very severely.
Aggravated Sex Charges
In Texas, defendants charged with aggravated offenses face even more strict penalties than those who are facing general charges. While factors causing a crime to be considered aggravated depend on the specific circumstances surrounding the crime one is accused of, some examples include:
- Situations in which date rape drugs were used to commit the crime
- If the alleged victim was a minor less than 14 years of age, disabled, or elderly
- If the victim was either threatened or sustained serious bodily injury
- When the sexual crime happened in conjunction with the commission of another crime, such as possession of a weapon or a kidnapping
Whereas a non-aggravated sexual assault is a second-degree felony and calls for a sentence of between two and 20 years, adding the aggravated aspect to the charge significantly impacts punishment. Once deemed aggravated, a sexual assault is upgraded to a felony in the first degree, a charge which comes with a recommended sentence of at least five years in prison, and as many as 99 years.
Due to the severe penalties an individual could face if convicted, it is vital to contact a sex crimes attorney in the Midland area right away.
Registration as a Sex Offender in Texas
Texas law requires those convicted of sex crimes to register with law enforcement in each area the reside as well as each time they move so that the Texas State Sex Offender Registration database can be updated with the latest information about them. This database is readily accessible to the public and includes all personal biographical details including one’s current address, job information, aliases, and conviction details, as well as a recent photograph of the offender.
Registration in the database can be for as little as 10 years, but may also last a lifetime depending on the restrictions imposed during sentencing by the judge. Charges requiring offenders to register for life include:
- Any sexual offense involving violence
- Child pornography
- Sexual offenses committed against minors in conjunction with other crimes such as kidnapping
- Sex trafficking
Responding to Charges for Sex Crimes
Given how severely sex crimes are dealt with in Texas, it is important that you contact a Midland sex crimes attorney to discuss your case as soon as you are made aware of the charges you are facing.
In discussing your case with an attorney, they will provide you with further information about the charges you are facing as well as how to address the potential sentencing and offender registration requirements if convicted.