How Does the Age of Consent Influence Criminal Charges in Texas?
Because children’s brains are not fully developed and they have not had the same life experiences as adults, it is assumed that children cannot consent to sexual activities. In the eyes of the law, this makes any sexual conduct between a child and an adult non-consensual and therefore unlawful. However, the “age of consent” or age at which a person is considered to be capable of agreeing to sex, varies from state to state. This can make it difficult to know when a sexual relationship is in violation of the law. If you have been charged with sexual assault of a child or accused of statutory rape, you could be facing life-altering criminal consequences. That is why it is important to contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Texas Law Regarding Statutory Rape
The age of consent is 17 in Texas. This means that it is unlawful for an adult to participate in sexual activities with someone who is 16 years old or younger. Texas law does not use the term “rape” for nonconsensual sex but instead refers to the act as sexual assault. Many people do not realize that they can be charged with sexual assault of a child even if the underage person agreed to the sexual activity. Sexual activity does not need to be forced or involve drugs such as Rohypnol in order to be a criminal offense. Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony in Texas. If convicted, you could be imprisoned for 2-20 years and fined up to $10,000. If you are accused of participating in non-penetrative sexual activities with a person under 17, you could be charged with indecency with a child. This is also a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. You will also be required to register as a sex offender.
There is an exception to laws prohibiting the sexual assault of a child nicknamed the “Romeo and Juliet” exception. If the sexual activity was between a child aged at least 14 and someone less than four years older than him or her, this is not a criminal offense unless other factors made the conduct illegal.
Contact a Plano, Texas Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer
Being convicted of criminal offenses such as sexual assault of a child or indecency with a child can cost you your career, your reputation, and your freedom. You could potentially spend years if not decades behind bars. At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we understand that a criminal defendant is innocent until proven guilty. For help building a strong defense against criminal charges, call our office at 214-303-9600 today. Schedule a confidential, free initial consultation with one of our experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys today.