Sexual assault, commonly known as rape, is a serious crime in the state of Texas. Nearly 13 percent, or 2 million Texans have been sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is not a crime of passion, but a crime of violence generally motivated by dominance and control. Accusations of sexual assault are exceptionally severe and bring dire consequences in regards to both the law and social perception.
Sexual assault occurs when a defendant intentionally and knowingly commits any prohibited sexual activity listed under Texas’ sexual assault law without the victim’s consent. Consent is not given, by law, if physical violence was threatened or used, if the victim was physically made unable to resist or if the defendant was in a place of power over the victim (caregiver, public servant, etc.)
Although approximately 80% of cases are still not reported, available research has concluded that the majority of sexual assault cases involve female victims. Across the United States 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 20 men have been sexually assaulted at some time in their lives.
Contrary to popular belief, offenders of sexual assault are by and large someone the victim has some sort of relationship with. We are often warned not to trust strangers, however 73% of all reported sexual assaults have been committed by someone the victim knows. Of these, 38% were friends or acquaintances, 28% were intimate partners and 7% were relatives. Sexual assault offenders are generally educated and employed, do not generally belong to one racial or ethnic group, and usually have access to consensual sex.
The more serious charge of aggravated sexual assault is typically distinguished by the presence of an element of violence, or involves a victim who is mentally or physically incapacitated. Characteristics of aggravated sexual assault are serious bodily injury caused to the victim, attempted murder during the sexual act, kidnapping, presence of a deadly weapon, the defendant acted with another individual, a “rape drug” such as Rohypnol or Ketamine was used, the victim was under 14 years old or if the victim was elderly or disabled.
Penalties and sentencing for sexual assault is harsh in the state of Texas. Sexual assault is typically a 2nd degree felony and constitutes a sentence of 2-20 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The charge can be elevated to a 1st degree felony if the victim was someone the defendant was prohibited from marrying at the time of the crime (i.e. a child or family member). A 1st degree felony usually calls for a sentence of 5-99 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Aggravated assault is always a 1st degree felony and mandates a sentence of 25 years if the victim was younger than 6 years old, or if the victim was younger than 14 and there was presence of a deadly weapon, serious injury or rape drugs.
Sexual assault is a serious charge that can damage your reputation, family life and career. A sexual assault conviction will likely haunt you for the rest of your life. If you have been accused of sexual assault there are defenses that you can use to maintain your innocence and return to your normal life. Defenses include innocence, consent, insanity and mental incapacity. Paul Darrow is a Houston sex crime defense attorney that can help explain the ways that these defenses work, and how to ensure such a charge does not land on your criminal record.