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Some Sex-Related Crimes Don’t Necessarily Come with Jail Time in Texas

sexual harassment texas attorney

Sex crimes are serious criminal offenses that can carry significant consequences, both for the person charged with the crime and his or her family. It’s important to understand, however, that not all unwanted sexual activity rises to the level of sexual assault or another sex crime under Texas law. The difference is important, because it could determine whether a person charged with a crime is facing jail time and other heavy penalties.

Sexual assault is the legal term for rape. Texas law generally defines sexual assault as nonconsensual sexual contact that involves penetration of the sexual organ or anus of another person by any means or penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor. Lack of consent includes situations in which the actor uses physical force, violence or coercion to force sex or where the victim is unconscious or otherwise unable to consent.

The crime is usually a second degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years behind bars and up to $10,000 in fines. That’s not to mention the social stigma that can come with being convicted of a sex crime. A criminal record, particularly as a sex offender, can strain personal relationships and make it difficult to find and keep a job.

However, unwanted advances, touching, fondling and groping are all forms of simple assault, which is usually considered a Class C misdemeanor — punishable by up to $500 in fines and no jail time — unless there are aggravating factors. Although some victim advocates have pushed to enhance punishments for touching and other unwanted actions of a sexual nature that fall short of sexual assault, state lawmakers have yet to take up any such legislation.

A person who is initially charged with sexual assault can in some cases plead to simple assault as a lesser offense. Prosecutors, however, often aggressively pursue sexual assault charges in borderline cases. It’s important to understand that the burden is at all times on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged committed the specific crime. In sexual assault cases, that means proving penetration. That’s why a person charged with sexual assault should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early as possible in the process.

To learn more about the legal consequences of being charged with sexual assault or another crime in Texas, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison, P.C. Call us at 830-955-8168 or contact us online to arrange an appointment.