Definition of a Sex Crime in Fort Worth
Texas law has many different descriptions when referring to sex crimes. Some of them deal with consensual sex, even if one of the participants is of age, if the other person is too young to actually consent, it will be considered a sex crime. Then there are the sex crimes that involve lack of consent. You have those two categories. With consensual situations, if the victim is, or the alleged victim is under seventeen years of age, then even though they may have consented to the sexual contact, it is considered a felony offense. There is one defense commonly known as the Romeo & Juliet defense, in which the person accused, frequently the male is not more than three years older than the female, but she is over fourteen years of age. If she consented, then that is considered a defense to the crime that may be used by a Fort Worth sex crimes attorney. These situations happen often between boyfriends and girlfriends.
Types of Sex Crimes
In the past, it used to be called statutory rape. There was consent, but a crime was still committed. Now, if a person is more than three years older even though the victim consented, and if the victim is under seventeen years of age, that is not a defense, it is still a crime. It is a second-degree felony, which is punishable by two years and up to twenty years in prison. Fines are typically $10,000. In non-consensual situations, or if the victim, or person touched or who was touched sexually by an adult is under fourteen years of age, then it does not matter about the age, or if there was consent between both parties. It is a crime no matter what. Then you must look at whether or not the crime involves just the touching of the genital areas, anal area, or breasts. That would be indecent sexual contact, or fondling, which is a second-degree felony.
If there was actual penetration of a sexual organ, or contact with a sexual organ, or oral contact, then that could be a first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault, if the child is under fourteen years of age. Consent does not matter whatsoever. Then you have your other non-consensual situations involving what we used to typically call rape, where a person has non-consensual sex with someone, and it does not matter the age of the victim. It can be a second-degree felony of sexual assault, or it can be a first-degree felony if the victim is under fourteen years of age, or if there was serious bodily injury, or weapons used. There are situations where someone forced another person who did not consent, that could be a second-degree felony of sexual assault. Alternatively, if the person was threatened with serious bodily injury, death, or a weapon was used, then that becomes aggravated sexual assault.
Are Sex Crimes Generally Categorized As Felony Charges?
Generally speaking, all sex crimes are considered felonies. Some people might consider indecent exposure a sex crime, which could just be a misdemeanor or a felony. It all depends if a child was involved.
First Steps to Take Once Accused
We see many people who have been accused of some type of sex offense from consensual sex situations, especially involving adults with another adult. We are noticing more of an up-rise of folks meeting over the internet for sexual encounters. Then a day, a week, or a month goes by, and one of the parties decides that it was not consensual at all. Sometimes one of the participants starts feeling guilty or remorseful. Many people are being arrested and accused of a sex offense in these situations. We believe that, and the client believes absolutely often, that this was a consensual situation.
Most of these cases have been a positive outcome for our clients, and we are experiencing tremendous success in most of these cases. Sometimes we are able to get the detectives to drop the charges without even arresting our clients, while the case is being dismissed. This is very important so the arrest may be expunged from their records. They will not have the horrible stigma of being arrested, accused, convicted of some type of sex offense, or accused as a sexual predator. It is very important that we can ensure the clients that there is a defense and that if it was consensual, and they have not committed a crime.
How Sex Crimes are Typically Committed
The situations we see are often enough between people who already know one another. Of course, people who assault those who they pick out at random are the people we fear the most in society. Sexual predator offenders usually pick people at random to assault. Those are certainly the stereotypical criminals that we think of when we hear of these offenses and probably those who we fear the most. Those are, in our practice thank goodness, far and few between. In our practice, we do not see many cases like that. We mostly see situations where it is two adults in a consensual situation, and one has had second thoughts or decided that maybe they do not remember enough about it, or they were intoxicated, and no consent was given. These situations are investigated thoroughly.