Austin Sex Crimes Attorney
Sex Crimes In Austin, TX
Sex crimes are among the most serious charges in the Texas Penal Code. They can also be among the most complicated cases for an attorney to handle. Even more than other types of crimes, it is essential to employ an experienced Austin sex crimes attorney early in the process, even before charges are brought because law enforcement will likely request an interview early on in the process. Do not ever give a statement to the police without a criminal defense attorney present.
Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student (21.12)
A teacher cannot engage in sexual intercourse with their student even if the student is of age. This type of case happens more often than we like to admit. In rare cases, there is a defense that the relationship began before the teacher’s employment at the school, but only if there is less than three years difference. Another defense is if the teacher and student are married. A conviction under this statute is a second-degree felony.
It is prohibited to release the name of the alleged victim to the public in these cases, which is good because they often generate media attention. The statute applies to all employees of the school; not just teachers.
Sexual Performance by a Child Charges (43.25)
Sexual performance means a visual representation like a photograph or video. Anyone who employs, authorizes, or induces a child to engage in the behavior can be charged with this offense, a second-degree felony. In today’s age of social media, this usually takes the form of requesting sexual photos or videos with private messages or other means.
A small but important distinction with this statute is that the age of a child is defined as under 18, whereas in most other Texas statutes involving children, the age is defined as under 17. It is not a defense that the defendant was unaware of the age of the child, even if the child lies about their age.
Possession of Child Pornography Charges (43.26)
We are all aware that child pornography is a serious problem in our society, and as such, it is treated extremely seriously under Texas law. It is initially charged as a third-degree felony but becomes more serious when there are previous convictions.
It is an element of the crime that the actor must know the “content and character” of the material. Therefore, if the person is not aware that there is child pornography in a download, but it accidentally ends up on his computer, this is a defense. It is easy to make this defense if there are only a few photos or videos but becomes more difficult when there are gigabytes or terabytes full of material.
Another question is whether the people depicted in the material are actually children. There was a recent case where a porn star who looked especially young was forced to travel and testify in a case to prove that she was of age. Short of direct testimony from a porn star, the prosecutors would not drop the charge. Prosecutors must put on an expert to testify to the age of the children. In borderline cases, they may not be able to prove that the people depicted in the material are actually underage.
In addition to being a second-degree felony or higher, Possession of Child Porn carries an automatic registration as a sex offender. This can be a lifetime registration, which can have serious consequences years and years into the future.
Sexual Assault Charges (22.011)
Another name for sexual assault is rape. This means sex with another person without their consent. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, so in the case of date rape, a person can be charged with rape even if he or she had gotten consent at some earlier point in time. Of course, this charge is extremely serious. At a minimum, it is charged as a second-degree felony, and there are factors that can bump it up to a first-degree felony. Lifetime registration as a sex offender is also required.
If you are being investigated for sexual assault, you should contact an Austin sex crimes lawyer immediately. Even if you are innocent of any wrongdoing, the penalties are too severe to take them lightly. There are often multiple interpretations of events and few witnesses. You may be facing a situation where a sexual partner regrets their previous actions and/or has misremembered the events. It is extremely important to get a clear idea of the accusations before making any statement to the police. Sometimes, an interview with the police is a good idea, but more often, it is not. And it is NEVER a good idea to make a statement without an attorney present.
Aggravated Sexual Assault Charges (22.021)
Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony with a jail term of 5-99 years. It is charged when there is an “aggravating” factor that makes the assault more serious. The aggravating factors are listed below:
- Causes serious bodily harm
- Places the alleged victim in fear that another person will be the victim of a violent crime
- Threatens the victim with serious injury, death, or kidnapping
- Exhibits a deadly weapon
- Acts in concert with another with conduct directed at the same victim and occurring during the same criminal episode.
- Administers a substance a substance to administer the rape
- If the victim is younger than 14 (it is no defense if the actor is unaware of the child’s age).
- If the victim is an elderly or disabled individual
If any of these factors are present, the charge is filed as a first-degree felony. Unless a defense can be mounted that puts the veracity of the charge in question, it is likely that this charge will lead to significant jail time, even if the actor has a clean criminal record previously.
Sex Offender Registration
All of the following convictions require a Sex Offender Registration:
- continuous sexual abuse of a child,
- indecency with a child,
- sexual assault,
- aggravated sexual assault,
- sexual performance by a child,
- aggravated kidnapping, if there was an intent to commit a sex crime,
- burglary, if there was an intent to commit a sex crime once inside,
- human trafficking involving prostitution,
- child trafficking involving or leading to a sex crime,
- continuous human or child trafficking,
- compelling child prostitution,
- possession or promotion of child pornography, and
- possession or promotion of obscene material of children under 18.
Sex Offender Registration comes with a huge social stigma. In addition, there are stringent requirements to report any change in living situation or even extended trips to another location. Failure to meet these stringent requirements can lead to a new felony charge. Obviously, keeping up with registration is an important condition, but unfortunately, honest mistakes or even clerical errors can sometimes lead to felony charges. Therefore, it is important to avoid registration in the first place where possible.
Depending on the charge, Sex Offender Registration can be for 10 years or a lifetime. In some cases, there is the possibility to be removed from the lifetime registration list, but the process is long, expensive, and necessitates submitting to a lengthy psychological evaluation. It is not available in all cases.
Contact An Experienced Austin Sex Crimes Attorney
If you or a loved one is being investigated or has been charged with a sex crime, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Austin sex crimes attorney. We offer a free 30-minute case evaluation and payment plans.