Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer
Every passing year witnesses thousands of Texans in Houston grappling with the harrowing ordeal of being accused of sex crimes. Among these accusations, a distressing number proves to be false, highlighting the urgent need for swift action to safeguard one’s rights. Accusations of a sex crime in Houston, Texas, can cast a shadow over every facet of life – from personal freedom to professional standing and reputation. It is in these trying times that the experienced Houston sex crime attorneys at Scheiner Law Group, P.C. emerge as stalwart defenders. Our legal team is ready to champion your cause and fight relentlessly for your legal rights.
The implications of a sex crime accusation are profound, even for those falsely accused. The mere whisper of such allegations can jeopardize careers and tarnish reputations irreparably. Whether facing imminent accusations or already standing accused, reaching out to an attorney is paramount. In this expansive guide, we will comprehensively explore the far-reaching consequences of sex crimes, and the myriad types of offenses, delve into the intricacies of age of consent laws, talk about the pivotal role of a sex crime lawyer in Houston, and outline crucial strategies for those grappling with false accusations.
Penalties & Consequences of a Sex Crime in Houston, Texas
The repercussions of a sex crimes conviction in Texas is a grim landscape fraught with severe penalties and life-altering consequences. In most instances, sex crimes are classified as felonies, carrying the weight of possible fines reaching up to $10,000 and incarceration sentences ranging from 2 years to a potential life term. However, the repercussions extend beyond the confines of a prison cell, ushering in collateral consequences that persist long after the legal proceedings conclude.
Collateral Consequences: A Burden Beyond Bars
One of the most pervasive consequences of a sex crimes conviction is the mandatory registration as a sex offender upon release from jail or prison. The duration of this registration hinges on the severity of the crime, with individuals potentially obligated to register for ten years or, in more severe cases, for a lifetime. Failure to adhere to the yearly sex offender registration requirement may result in the suspension of your driver’s license by the Department of Public Safety until compliance is met.
While there is a process for deregistration from the sex offender’s list, as sex crime attorneys in Houston, we know it is arduous, intricate, and frequently ends in denial. The most effective means of avoiding these collateral consequences is to vigorously fight for a verdict of not guilty during the trial for sex crimes.
The Catastrophic Impact on Your Career
A sex crime conviction casts a long shadow over professional life, making it exceedingly difficult to secure or maintain employment. The stigma associated with sex crimes often results in employers hesitating to hire or retain a sex offender within their company. Certain professions may become entirely inaccessible, as licensing authorities can revoke or deny professional licenses in the face of misdemeanor or felony charges related to the profession.
Most sex crimes are categorized as crimes of moral turpitude, violating the moral norms of the community. Consequently, employers and licensing bodies possess a legal basis for denying employment or professional privileges to those with a conviction for a sex crime.
Stripping Away Rights: The Consequences Beyond Employment
Convicted felons lose the right to possess firearms, as outlined in Section 46.04 of the Texas Penal Code. Federal law further prohibits firearm ownership for those convicted of crimes with prison sentences of one year or more, as per 18 USC 922 (g) and (n). This means that a conviction for virtually any sex crime results in the almost certain revocation of your right to own a firearm.
Moreover, Texas law bars convicted felons from serving on juries, running for or holding public office, and even exercising their right to vote. The far-reaching implications underscore the gravity of a sex crimes conviction.
Impact on Education, Child Custody, and Property Confiscation
Our Houston sex crime lawyers are well aware of the consequences of a sexual crimes conviction reverberate across various facets of life, including education, family dynamics, and property ownership. Convicted individuals find themselves ineligible for federal and state educational grants, facing hurdles not only in paying for school but also in gaining admission to institutions that often reject convicted felons or those charged with sexual assault or child abuse.
In the realm of family matters, a sex crime conviction may not automatically impact child custody. However, when seeking a court-ordered decision on custody, the conviction could become a significant factor, especially if it involves family violence, assault against a spouse, or indecency with a child.
Additionally, In cases of suspected sex crimes, the police may confiscate property believed to have been used as an instrument of the crime. This pre-trial punishment, akin to asset forfeiture in drug-related cases, can involve the seizure of homes or vehicles suspected of facilitating offenses like solicitation of a minor, prostitution, public indecency, sexual performance by a child, indecency with a child, trafficking of a person, or any second-degree felony.
What Are Some Types of Sex Crimes in Houston, Texas?
Sexual assault, often referred to as “rape” or “date rape,” involves a male accused of non-consensual sexual acts, either through force or under circumstances where consent is contested. In one scenario, force or threat of force is alleged. At the same time, another common situation revolves around an accused engaging in what they believe is consensual activity, only for the other party to claim later incapacity to consent.
In Texas, Sexual Assault is typically a second-degree felony, with potential penalties of 2-20 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. This offense, categorized as a “3g” offense, mandates at least 50% of the sentence served before parole eligibility. The prosecution must establish intentional or knowing penetration without consent, considering the age of consent in Houston, TX (set at 17).
Indecent Exposure and Public Lewdness
Our Houston sex crime attorneys are frequently asked about indecent exposure laws. Indecent exposure, commonly referred to as “flashing,” constitutes a Class “B” misdemeanor in Texas, carrying fines up to $2,000 and 180 days in county jail. Recklessly exposing genitals or anus with intent to arouse, while indifferent to potential offense, triggers this charge. Multiple offenses may lead to sex offender registration, underscoring the need for a robust defense to avert enduring consequences.
Similarly, public lewdness, often associated with “sex in a public place,” involves engaging in sexual acts carelessly or recklessly in the presence of others. As a Class “A” misdemeanor, it brings penalties of fines up to $4,000 and one year in county jail.
Child Molestation and Indecency with a Child
Commonly termed “child molestation” or “rape of a child,” this offense involves consensual relations with a 14- to 16-year-old minor. Violating Texas state law and engaging in illegal and sexually based activity without the victim’s consent lead to severe consequences. A conviction can have devastating effects on your family, employment prospects, and overall life. Seek competent legal defense to address charges effectively.
Consent does not apply when the accused is part of the clergy, a public servant, a healthcare provider, holds a position of power over the victim, or is employed at the facility where the victim resides. These situations underscore the importance of preventing abuse of authority in cases of Sexual Assault of a Child.
In Texas, Sexual Assault of a Child is typically a Second Degree Felony, carrying potential sentences of 2-20 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Seeking guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial, especially considering the complexities involved in proving the complainant’s age and the specific nature of the alleged offenses.
Accusations may prompt investigations by law enforcement or agencies like Child Protective Services (CPS). Any statements made during an investigation can be used against the accused in court. Consult with an experienced sex crime lawyer in Houston before making any statements that could compromise a fair trial.
Indecency with a Child
- Indecency with a Child by Contact
In Texas, Indecency with a Child by Contact is a severe Second Degree Felony, carrying penalties of 2-20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. It falls under the “3g” offense category, requiring at least 50% of the sentence to be served before parole eligibility. Lifetime registration as a sex offender in Houston and Texas accompanies a conviction. The prosecution must prove the complainant was 16 or under at the time of the alleged offense, involving any intentional touching of the anus, breast, or genitals to arouse or gratify sexual desire. An affirmative defense exists if the accused is not more than three years older than the complainant, and no force, duress, or threat was involved.
- Indecency with a Child by Exposure
Termed “flashing” or “indecency with a child by showing,” this offense is a serious Third Degree Felony in Texas. Punishable by 2-10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000, it usually mandates 10-year sex offender registration, with lifetime registration for prior offenses. The prosecution must prove the child complainant was 16 or under at the time of the alleged offense, involving exposure of the anus or genitals in the presence of a child. Intent to arouse or gratify sexual desire must be established. An affirmative defense exists if the accused is not more than three years older than the complainant, and no force, duress, or threat was involved.
These charges are serious. If you are in need of legal representation from a Houston sex crime attorney, contact our legal team today.
Termed “Child Porn” or “Kiddie Porn,” these offenses carry severe legal implications. Possession involves knowingly or intentionally holding visual material depicting a child under 18 engaged in sexual conduct. Promotion encompasses creating, distributing, or possessing child pornography with the intent to distribute.
In Texas, Possession of Child Pornography is a Third Degree Felony, punishable by 2-10 years imprisonment, a fine up to $10,000, and lifetime sex offender registration. Promotion of Child Pornography entails more severe penalties, including potential federal charges.
An accused person must knowingly or intentionally possess visual material depicting a child under 18 engaged in sexual conduct. It is vital to note that legal defenses exist, such as being a law enforcement officer or school administrator who possessed material in good faith, solely due to an allegation, and took appropriate steps to address the issue.
Prostitution and Solicitation
Accusations of Prostitution, whether from offering, agreeing to, or engaging in sexual conduct for a fee, demand a robust defense. Hiring an experienced Houston sex crime lawyer becomes crucial for aggressively fighting these charges in court.
- Legal Consequences: For first-time offenses, Prostitution is a Class “B” misdemeanor, attracting fines up to $2,000, and potential jail time of six months. Repeat offenses escalate to Class “A” misdemeanors or State Jail Felonies, depending on the number of prior convictions.
- Solicitation Offenses: Knowingly soliciting another person in a public place for sexual conduct for hire also falls under Prostitution charges. Penalties can range from fines to imprisonment, with enhanced consequences for multiple convictions.
- Prostitution Involving Minors: Prostitution involving minors carries severe penalties. If the solicited person is 14-17 years old, it’s a Third Degree Felony; if under 14, it becomes a Second Degree Felony, both carrying substantial prison sentences and fines.
Online Solicitation of a Minor
Online Solicitation of a Minor, a grave offense in Texas, involves intentionally communicating sexually explicit content to minors or soliciting them for sexual acts. The law, amended in 2015 and 2021, includes penalties for solicitation during school hours.
- Communication Offense (Section b): Individuals aged 17 or older commit an offense by communicating explicit content to a minor or distributing such material.
- Solicitation Offense (Section c): Knowingly soliciting a minor online with the intent of engaging in sexual acts constitutes another offense.
Defenses to Prosecution:
- Spousal Defense: One defense is applicable if the minor is the spouse of the defendant.
- Age and Consent Defense: Another defense is available if the minor was less than three years younger than the defendant, and the minor consented.
- Section (b): A third-degree felony, becomes a second-degree felony if the minor is under 14.
- Section (c): A second-degree felony, with enhanced penalties during school hours.
Registration as a Sex Offender:
Conviction or adjudication, including deferred adjudication, requires registration as a sex offender.
Marital rape laws in Texas, enacted in 1994, allow for criminal charges and civil lawsuits against a spouse for rape or sexual assault. The legislation applies not only to current marriages but also to ex-spouses and long-term intimate partners.
- Sexual Assault: Involves penetration without consent, including specific acts outlined in the Texas Penal Code 22.011.
- Aggravated Sexual Assault: Includes factors like serious bodily injury, threats, use of weapons, or drugging with substances like ketamine or roofies.
Marital rape laws extend beyond current marriages to cover ex-spouses and long-term intimate partners.
Elements Leading to Marital Rape:
Force, coercion, threats, or incapacity.
- Classified as a second-degree felony with a prison term ranging from 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Mandatory registration as a sex offender, with the registration period determined by the judge.
- As Houston sex crime lawyers, we know that cases involving significant violence may be elevated to marital aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony with stricter penalties, including a minimum 5-year prison term up to a life sentence, a fine up to $10,000, and mandatory sex offender registration.
Aggravated Sexual Assault in Drug-Related Cases:
If a spouse is drugged during a nonconsensual sexual assault, classified as a first-degree felony with severe penalties.
Improper Student and Teacher Relationships
An Improper Relationship Between Teacher and Student is a criminal offense in Texas, encompassing sexual contact or intercourse between any public or private school employee and a student, irrespective of the student’s age.
- Governed by Texas Penal Code 21.12, the law extends beyond educators to include all school employees.
- The offense is called an “improper relationship between an educator and student.”
Classified as a Second Degree felony with penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
Legislative Changes (Senate Bill 7):
- Passed on May 16, 2017, Senate Bill 7 introduced enhanced criminal and administrative consequences for improper teacher-student relationships.
- Unanimous support in the Texas Senate and House, sponsored by 78 legislators.
- Automatic revocation of teaching licenses for educators convicted of most sex offenses.
- Principals are mandated to report teacher misconduct to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), with failure leading to fines, jail time, and license revocation.
- Public retirement system suspension for those convicted, resulting in the loss of pensions.
- Prospective school employees are required to disclose criminal misconduct in pre-employment affidavits.
- School districts are compelled to establish written policies for electronic communications between employees and students.
Scope of Applicability:
Encompasses various public or private school employees, extending beyond teachers.
Understanding Age of Consent Laws in Houston, Texas
The legal Age of Consent in Texas is 17, as stipulated by the Texas Penal Code Section 21.11. This means that individuals aged 17 or older are considered capable of providing legal consent for engaging in sexual activity. Both Penal Code Section 21.11 and Section 22.011 play crucial roles in defining the Age of Consent, with Section 21.11 specifically prohibiting sexual conduct with a child below 17.
What Does a Houston Sex Crime Defense Lawyer Do?
Sex crimes carry severe consequences in Texas, and a conviction can lead to significant penalties and a lasting impact on one’s life. The Scheiner Law Group, a sex crime defense attorney in Houston, understands the gravity of such charges and is dedicated to providing robust defense strategies for those falsely accused. If you find yourself facing sex crime allegations, it’s crucial to consult with our experienced sex offense attorney team promptly.
When falsely accused of a sex crime, obtaining legal counsel is imperative to counter aggressive law enforcement tactics. Our sex crime defense attorneys in Houston conduct a thorough initial assessment, crafting a strategic defense plan based on the unique circumstances of your case. We leverage a network of resources, including private investigators and forensic experts, to gather critical evidence in your favor.
A legal representative from Scheiner Law Group can analyze your case comprehensively, exploring various defense strategies. Common approaches include challenging misidentification, questioning consent issues, and applying the Romeo and Juliet exemption when applicable.
Navigating the legal process, our defense attorneys are adept at seeking plea bargains before trial. This involves negotiating a guilty plea to a lesser offense, offering a potential avenue for a more favorable outcome. With a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding sex crime cases, Scheiner Law Group is your ally in pursuing justice and safeguarding your future.
I’ve Been Falsely Accused of a Sex Crime in Houston, What Do I Do?
Being falsely accused of a sex crime in Houston can be overwhelming, jeopardizing your reputation and future. False accusations often stem from various situations, including impaired accusers or regret over consensual encounters. Understanding the potential reasons behind false accusations is crucial for building a robust defense.
Why False Accusations Happen
False accusations may arise due to various factors, such as impaired judgment, regret, or even motives like revenge in custody disputes. It’s essential to grasp these dynamics to formulate a strong defense strategy.
Immediate Steps to Take
If falsely accused, take swift action to protect your rights and build a solid defense:
- Contact a Sex Crime Attorney in Houston, Texas: Your first step is reaching out to an experienced attorney, like those at Scheiner Law Group. Exercise your right to remain silent and let your attorney guide you through the legal process.
- Gather Evidence: Collect evidence supporting your case, including possible video footage, photos, and communication exchanges. This critical information can help build a compelling defense.
- Avoid Discussing Your Case: Refrain from discussing your case on social media or making statements to anyone, including the accuser. Exercise your right to remain silent to prevent potential complications.
Defense Strategies and Potential Outcomes
A skilled attorney can employ various defense strategies, such as challenging misidentification or questioning consent issues. Understanding how sexual assault cases can be dropped before formal charges and seeking expert legal counsel are crucial steps.
Things Which Can Harm Your Sex Offense Lawsuit in Houston
If you find yourself facing false sex crime allegations in Houston, steering clear of detrimental actions is crucial for safeguarding your case. Here are essential dos and don’ts to help protect yourself if falsely accused:
Don’t Ignore the Charges
Ignoring false charges is not the solution. Take proactive steps immediately upon learning of the accusations to protect yourself. False sex crime allegations can have severe and lasting consequences, making it imperative to address them promptly.
Hire A Sex Crime Defense Attorney In Houston
Upon being accused of a sex-related crime, don’t hesitate to contact a skilled Houston Sex Crime Attorney specializing in false sexual assault cases. Seek legal guidance as soon as possible to ensure a comprehensive review of your case, avoiding promises of a swift resolution.
Don’t Attempt to Defend Yourself
Resist the urge to confront the accuser directly or provide explanations independently. Every statement, whether in conversations, social media posts, or discussions, can be used against you. Communicate solely through your attorney and refrain from contacting the accuser until the matter is resolved.
Do Document Your Recollection
As soon as you learn about the accusation, document your version of events. Include details such as clothing, lighting, alcohol or drug involvement, and any other relevant information. Provide this information exclusively to your Houston sex crimes lawyer, along with a list of potential witnesses.
Keep Emotions in Check
While it’s natural to feel anger when falsely accused, maintaining emotional control is crucial. Avoid confrontations with the accuser, their associates, and family members. Exercise restraint in public spaces, as any outburst, can be used against you.
Inform Your Lawyer of Supporting Evidence
If there is video footage or photos from the alleged incident’s location, inform your attorney promptly. These pieces of evidence can substantiate your version of events. Share all evidence exclusively with your attorney, allowing them to determine its relevance and accuracy.
Why Choose Scheiner Law Group?
Sex crimes in Texas bring enduring repercussions, including mandatory sex offender registration, employment restrictions, strained relationships, limited housing options, and loss of civil liberties. Social stigma and mental health toll compound the challenges faced by those convicted, impacting personal, professional, and social aspects of their lives.
Led by board-certified attorney Grant Scheiner, Scheiner Law Group brings over three decades of criminal defense experience. Recognized as a Top Lawyer and Texas Super Lawyer, Grant’s extensive trial expertise ensures a robust defense against false sex crime charges. Trust Scheiner Law Group for a skilled and committed advocate in navigating the complexities of criminal defense.
Experienced Sex Crime Law Firm in Houston, Texas
Our legal team is dedicated to safeguarding your rights and providing steadfast defense against false sex crime charges in Houston, Texas. With Grant Scheiner’s proven track record as a board-certified attorney and extensive trial experience, our commitment is unwavering. Trust us to navigate the legal complexities, ensuring a robust defense tailored to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome in challenging circumstances.