Houston Sexual Assault Attorney

In a society where accusations of sexual assault can irreparably damage lives and reputations, it’s crucial to understand the legal landscape and your rights. Texas, known for its stringent laws on sexual assault, particularly in Houston, poses a challenging journey for those falsely accused of a sex crime. This article sheds light on what constitutes sexual assault in Texas, the severe penalties one may face, and how Scheiner Law Group, experienced Houston sexual assault lawyers, are committed to defending your rights against false allegations in the face of Texas’s strict legal framework.

What is Sexual Assault in Texas?

Sexual assault, one of the most severe sex crimes under Texas law, is a grave allegation that falls under Texas Penal Code section 22.011. This statutory framework defines sexual assault as any non-consensual, unwanted sexual contact involving penetration. The lack of consent, as per Texas law, can encompass various forms, including physical force, threats, coercion, and manipulation.

Understanding Texas Penal Code § 22.011

Texas Penal Code § 22.011 is the legal cornerstone that outlines the gravity of sexual assault offenses. Defined as any non-consensual sexual contact involving penetration, sexual assault can be charged as either a first or second-degree felony, depending on the circumstances. As sexual assault attorneys in Houston, Texas, we always emphasize that it is crucial to recognize the broad spectrum of actions that fall under this offense, ranging from physical force to manipulation, leaving individuals vulnerable to severe legal consequences.

In many instances, sexual assault cases rely heavily on the word of the alleged victim, even when lacking physical evidence. False allegations can arise for various reasons, making it imperative for those wrongly accused to understand the defenses available under Texas law. Despite the severe sanctions imposed on those convicted of sexual assault, the legal system provides essential defenses when faced with false accusations or insufficient evidence.

How Texas Law Defines Sexual Assault

Sexual assault, as defined in Texas Penal Code Ch 22.011, encompasses a range of actions beyond rape. These include:

  • Intercourse and Penetration Without Consent: Involving any non-consensual penetration.
  • Sexual Abuse of Incapacitated Individuals: Addressing situations where an individual cannot give consent due to disability or diminished mental capacity.
  • Acts with a Minor: Covering intercourse, penetration, or sexual contact with a minor, defined as anyone under age 17.
  • Forcible and Violent Acts: Encompassing acts of intercourse, penetration, or sexual contact involving force or violence, regardless of consent.
  • Coercive Sexual Acts: Addressing situations where coercion is employed to engage in sexual acts.

Texas law is particularly stringent when the defendant uses physical violence to control the victim or holds a position of power over them. Positions of power include health care providers, clergypersons, public servants, and individuals responsible for the care of the victim in settings like nursing homes.

To speak directly with a sexual assault lawyer in Houston, Texas, reach out to Scheiner Law today.

Defining Aggravated Sexual Assault

Sexual assault escalates to aggravated sexual assault under certain conditions, including:

  • Attempted or Caused Serious Bodily Injury or Death: The defendant attempted or caused significant harm or death to the victim.
  • Placed the Victim in Fear: The defendant instilled fear of losing life, being kidnapped, or suffering severe bodily injury in the victim.
  • Use of a Deadly Weapon: The defendant employed a deadly weapon during the assault.
  • Assault Committed with Another Person: The defendant acted in conjunction with another person.
  • Use of “Date Rape” Drugs: The defendant used substances like Rohypnol or ketamine to incapacitate the victim.
  • Victim’s Age or Vulnerability: The victim is younger than 14 years old or is disabled/elderly.

What Are the Penalties For Sexually Assaulting Someone in Houston, Texas?

As Houston sexual assault attorneys we are often asked about the penalites and consequences associated with being convicted of this type of crime. A sexual assault is typically classified as a second-degree felony unless aggravating circumstances elevate the charge. In Texas, a sexual assault is generally categorized as a second-degree felony, carrying a potential sentence of 2 to 20 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. However, it’s vital to note that this is the baseline penalty, and the severity increases significantly under certain conditions.

Aggravated Sexual Assault: A First-Degree Felony

When sexual assault charges are aggravated by specific circumstances, the offense escalates to a first-degree felony. The repercussions of a first-degree felony are severe, with the defendant facing a potential sentence of 5 to 99 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The gravity of the penalties underscores the importance of expert legal representation to navigate the complexities of the legal system.

For instance, when dealing with aggravated sexual assault of a minor under 6 years old, the minimum prison sentence upon conviction is a staggering 25 years. This minimum sentence also applies in cases involving sexual assault with a weapon against a child, particularly if severe injury or death results.

Examples of Sexual Assault in Houston, Texas

Sexual assault manifests in various forms, each carrying its legal implications. It’s crucial to differentiate between them, especially considering the strict enforcement of laws in Texas. The types include:

  • Rape: Contrary to common usage in other jurisdictions, Texas predominantly uses the term “sexual assault” to encompass what is commonly referred to as rape. The legal landscape in Texas, particularly under Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code, classifies acts that would be deemed rape in many jurisdictions as assaultive offenses of a sexual nature.

When law enforcement officers make arrests under suspicion of sexual assault in Texas, they may use the term “rape.” However, prosecutors and judges prefer the more encompassing term “sexual assault” in legal proceedings.

  • Sexual Assault of a Child: Referred to as “child molestation” or “rape of a child,” Sexual Assault of a Child involves consensual sexual relations with a 14 to 16-year-old minor, violating Texas law where the age of consent is 17. Charges may result in imprisonment, fines, and lifelong registration as a sex offender.

In cases involving clergy, public servants, healthcare providers, or those in positions of power over the victim, consent takes a different meaning. Texas law prohibits using authority for defense in Sexual Assault of a Child cases.

Sexual Assault of a Child is typically a Second Degree Felony, carrying 2-20 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and sex offender registration. Potential defenses from a Houston sexual assault lawyer include lack of intent, victim’s consent, or the defendant being the child’s spouse. Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, with heightened penalties, can result from various factors.

In certain instances, charges of Sexual Assault may be elevated to Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, resulting in even more severe legal consequences. Aggravating factors include disability or elderly status of the victim, the involvement of a deadly weapon, kidnapping, serious bodily injury, or fear of death caused by the defendant, use of drugs such as Ketamine or Rohypnol to facilitate the crime, or the victim being less than 14 years old.

Aggravated Sexual Assault or Aggravated Sexual Molestation of a Child is classified as a First Degree Felony under Tex. Pen. Code § 22.021. The potential sentence for this offense is 5-99 years imprisonment, a fine up to $10,000, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. This offense also falls under the “3g” category, requiring the convicted person to serve at least 50% of the sentence before parole eligibility.

  • Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child: Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child or Children involves at least two sexual abuse acts against a child aged 14 or younger, separated by at least 30 days. This charge distinguishes itself from Aggravated Sexual Assault through specific circumstances that escalate its severity.

In Texas, Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children is classified as a First Degree Felony, featuring an enhanced punishment range. A first offense may lead to a potential sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment, while a second offense incurs an automatic life sentence. A conviction results in parole ineligibility, lifelong sex offender registration, fines up to $10,000, and potential denial of government benefits.

  • Super Aggravated Child Molestation: Super Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is an upgraded term for Aggravated Sexual Assault, enhancing the punishment to a minimum of 25 years imprisonment, coupled with a $10,000 fine and mandatory sex offender registration. Parole eligibility is not granted for those sentenced to prison. It addresses cases involving victims under six years old or repeat offenses by someone previously convicted of Violent Sexual Assault of a victim under fourteen.

The prosecution must prove the complainant was 13 years old or younger at the time of the alleged offense. Additionally, specific circumstances such as causing serious bodily injury, attempting to cause death, using a deadly weapon, or employing certain drugs must be demonstrated. The offense typically includes penetration of the complainant’s sexual organ or anus by any object, penetration of the complainant’s mouth by a sexual organ, or various other sexual contacts.

“Age of Consent” Laws in Texas

Our sexual assault attorneys in Houston are often asked about Texas’ “age of consent” laws. In Texas, the age of consent is 17, implying that engaging in sexual activity with a child under 17 is considered statutory rape, regardless of the minor’s agreement or misinformation about their age. Key points to note:

  • The legal age of consent is not explicitly stated but is inferred from various statutes.
  • Under Penal Code Section 22.011, defining sexual assault of a child, a minor is anyone under 17.
  • Exceptions exist, such as the “Romeo-Juliet” law, protecting young adults within three years of age over 14 engaging in consensual relations.

Romeo and Juliet Law in Texas: A Closer Look

Contrary to common misconception, the Romeo and Juliet law in Texas is not a uniform three-year provision. It depends on the nature of the alleged offense. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Sexual Assault of a Child: 3-year Romeo-Juliet provision – Penal Code 22.011
  • Indecency with a Child: 3-year Romeo-Juliet provision – Penal Code 21.11
  • Online Solicitation: 3-year Romeo-Juliet provision – Penal Code 33.021
  • Sexual Performance by a Child: 2-year Romeo-Juliet provision – Texas penal Code 43.25
  • Electronic Transmission of Certain Visual Materials: 2-year Romeo-Juliet provision – Penal Code 43.261
  • Continuous Sexual Assault: 5-year Romeo-Juliet provision – Penal Code 21.02

What If I’m Being Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault in Houston, Texas?

Facing accusations of sexual assault can be emotionally overwhelming, especially when your proclamations of innocence seem unheard. In Texas, these cases carry significant weight, with potential steep penalties, including fines and imprisonment, as well as far-reaching consequences affecting employment, housing, child custody, and more.

The Role of an Attorney Experienced With Sexual Assault Claims

Experienced Houston sexual assault lawyers play a pivotal role in bringing clarity, composure, and mediation to your case. Their expertise lies in uncovering evidence in your favor, dismantling the prosecution’s case, and navigating the complexities of the legal system. A conviction may lead to lifelong registration as a sex offender, making it imperative to secure skilled legal representation.

Navigating the Complexity of Sexual Assault Cases

The Texas justice system, while designed to protect communities, is not without flaws. Unsubstantiated accusations and false statements can have lasting repercussions. Sexual assault cases often involve complex situations, where memories are vague, circumstances are misunderstood, and emotions can cloud judgment. This complexity can shift cases from factual to subjective, underscoring the importance of a robust defense.

Houston Sex Defense Attorneys Fighting For Your Rights

Led by Grant Scheiner, a board-certified attorney with extensive experience, Scheiner Law Group has been a pillar in Houston’s legal landscape since 1992. Recognized as one of Houston’s Top Lawyers annually since 2006, Scheiner is also a Texas Super Lawyer and consistently ranks among the top 100 Trial Lawyers. The firm brings years of real trial experience to every defense, and there is no substitute for such expertise.

At Scheiner Law, we understand that being charged with a sex crime in Houston, Texas, doesn’t equate to guilt. Our commitment is unwavering in exploring all avenues to secure the best outcome for our clients facing sexual assault charges.

Crafting the Best Defense: Your Shield Against Prosecution

Charged with sexual assault? The stakes are high, with the potential for significant prison sentences. Our seasoned sexual assault attorneys in Houston, Texas, are your allies, gathering evidence from various sources such as witnesses, crime labs, social media, and law enforcement. Our defense strategies encompass crucial aspects like:

  • Lack of Criminal Intent: Highlighting the necessity for knowing or intentional sexual contact, distinguishing accidental acts from criminal intent.
  • Victim Consent: Emphasizing the prosecution’s burden to prove the absence of the victim’s consent and addressing ‘he said, she said’ scenarios.
  • Expert Defense Tactics: Leveraging defenses like insanity or age proximity to the minor during the alleged offense.

Preparing the Falsely Accused to Testify: Grant Scheiner’s Expertise

Being falsely accused of a sex crime demands meticulous preparation for testifying. Grant Scheiner’s expertise ensures you navigate the legal process with confidence:

  • Maintaining Your Appearance: Strategic guidance on how to present yourself in court, from attire to body language.
  • Knowing Where to Look: Detailed instructions on who to address during testimony, optimizing your impact on the jury.
  • Avoiding Common Mistakes: Insight into potential pitfalls, preventing actions or phrases that could undermine your credibility.
  • Answering Questions Effectively: Training on courtroom responses, emphasizing brevity and accuracy to specific queries.
  • Understanding Case Strengths and Weaknesses: A comprehensive grasp of your case’s strong and weak points, empowering you to address prosecutor inquiries effectively.
  • Remaining Calm Under Pressure: Developing coping mechanisms to maintain composure during challenging testimony.

Contact Scheiner Law in Houston, Texas

Scheiner Law Group is steadfast in its commitment to defending your rights and protecting you against false sexual assault charges in Houston, Texas. If you find yourself facing such allegations, our Houston sexual assault attorneys are ready to provide the legal support you need. Reach out today to safeguard your future and reputation.

In a society where the consequences of false accusations are severe, having a knowledgeable and experienced legal team by your side is indispensable. Scheiner Law Group stands to bring hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system in the face of sexual assault allegations in Houston, Texas.