Sexual assault is a very serious crime, but it’s also a very serious allegation. It is one of the most troubling and harrowing criminal charges that a person can face. It requires immediate, competent, and skilled legal representation. Sexual assault in Texas is a very severe and potentially very damaging. There are negative implications because of the stigma. There are staggering criminal penalties that must be challenged head on. If you or a loved one has been arrested, feel like an arrest is looming, or has already been charged and is sitting in jail, you need to consult with and retain a lawyer immediately. I cannot emphasize or stress enough how important it will be for you to get going on your defense as soon as possible. If you find your yourself arrested and charged with a crime like sexual assault, it is crucial to get started immediately on retaining an attorney and defending your case. I have listed many of the reasons why below.
Have you Been Arrested for Sexual Assault?
If so, do not talk to police. Do not talk about aspects of your case on the phone in the jail. Those conversations are being recorded. Your first conversation about the case should be with a criminal defense attorney. It is so incredibly important to get started on this very early in the process. This is not simply so that your attorney, along with you and your family, can begin to develop a strategy and craft your defense. That is certainly very important, and will be crucial to the outcome of your criminal case. However, early on there are some very damaging things that can happen. Statements that you make at this point can sink your case. Do not talk to the police. I cannot emphasize this enough. You cannot talk your way out of it. However, you can make statements that create a much more difficult case for your attorney to defend. Investigators know this all too well. They are skilled and experienced at getting someone to discuss their case. They know how to elicit damaging statements. This will almost always end not well for you. Police will often present themselves as reasonable and thoughtful listeners who are just trying to get “the truth.” Unless something has gone terribly wrong, these conversations with police investigators and the suspect in a crime always occur before a person hires a lawyer.
What is Sexual Assault Law in Texas? Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code
The sexual assault statute is located in Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code. It falls under the Chapter of Assaultive Offenses, Chapter 22. There are two sections to the statute which outline prohibited conduct. One deals with sexual assault of an adult and one deals with the sexual assault of a child. Here is the language of the statute dealing with sexual assault:
(a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) intentionally or knowingly:
(A) causes the penetration of the anus of sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent;
(B) causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person’s consent; or
(C) causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
(2) intentionally or knowingly:
(A) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means;
(B) causes the penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor;
(C) causes the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
(D) causes the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
(E) causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor.
Dealing with a criminal allegation like this is often extremely difficult for a person to deal with because of the intimate nature of the crime. This is especially true if the person is facing a charge under the subsection (a)(2) dealing with sexual assault of a child. Furthermore, the penalties are very serious. A crime of sexual assault is a second degree felony in Texas. That means that a conviction will carry a potential range of punishment of between two and twenty years in the Texas Department of Corrections and up to a $10,000 fine. Moreover, a person may have to register as a sex offender for life. This is certainly a troubling prospect. The testimony of the alleged victim in this case will be crucial. Sexual assault cases can proceed based on the testimony of the victim alone. However, the prosecution will very much want physical evidence or scientific evidence. Physical evidence consists of photographs showing that sexual activity took place. Scientific evidence might consist of DNA evidence of the accused.
The Phases of a Sexual Assault Case
Criminal defense of your charge can consist of three phases: pre-indictment, pre-trial, and trial. Sometimes, these cases can be won before indictment. This is a huge victory and happens when a case gets “no-billed.” A grand jury must indict all felonies in Texas. If a case is not indicted, we win the case before the case even starts. If your case does get indicted, you will begin to have court settings and plea negotiations will take place between the felony prosecutor and your defense attorney. This is the stage where your lawyer tries to get your charge dismissed or reduced. If your case cannot be resolved at this stage, your case will be put on a trial docket and a jury trial will take place.
What is Consent in Sexual Assault Cases?
Consent is a legal defense to sexual assault of an adult. Obviously, consent is not a defense to sexual assault of a child because children cannot legally give consent. Whether there was consent or not is often the cornerstone question of a sexual assault case. If your case goes to a jury trial, your defense may simply be that the alleged victim consented and therefore no crime took place. The sexual assault statute outlines several situations in which consent is not present:
(b) A sexual assault under subsection (a)(1) is without the consent of the other person if:
(1) the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by the use of force or violence;
(2) the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by threatening to use force or violence against the other person, and the other person believes that the actor has the present ability to execute the threat
(3) the other person has not consented and the actor knows that the other person is unconscious or physically unable to resist;
Force of violence or threat of violence is often alleged in sexual assault cases. This is where the credibility of the alleged victim is so crucial. I don’t mean to sound crass about this, but essentially someone’s life is on the line. The testimony of the alleged victim will be crucial to the outcome of the case. Everyone deserves a defense, and this This is where the mettle of your defense counsel will show, especially in a trial scenario in which your attorney will be able to cross-examine the alleged victim and test the veracity of their story. Another situation that arises with frequency often involves heavy drinking and the alleged victim is unconscious or passed out. This often involves young people of college age and binge drinking. The testimony and credibility of the alleged victim in these cases is also important, and will also be tested under cross-examination.
The Need for Great Criminal Defense Representation
Facing a criminal charge of the caliber of sexual assault will more than likely have far-reaching consequences for other aspects of your life. The fierce stigma of a sexual assault allegation may be unavoidable. Your reputation and your standing in the community. Your family and your friends could treat your differently as a result. Your privacy will be impacted. The collateral impact of defending your criminal case can take a serious toll on our mental emotional and physical health and well-being. All of these reasons underscore the need to hire great criminal defense representation. Your health, your identity, your reputation is on the line. Your life is at stake. I offer a consultation that is free and confidential. Call me today to discuss your charge and your defense.