Dallas Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Lawyer
Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a very serious charge in Texas. The penalties are harsh, and so is the stigma when somebody is facing such allegations.
Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a first-degree felony in Texas. A conviction brings a minimum five-year prison sentence and up to life.
That state doesn’t stop there. You could be fined up to $10,000 and must register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
The charges are even more severe if the child is under six or the offense includes additional factors.
If you think law enforcement is investigating you for aggravated sexual assault in Dallas, you need to act fast. A conviction could alter the rest of your life and your family.
Contact an experienced Dallas child sexual assault lawyer as soon as possible. Our defense team at Varghese Summersett has a long record of success in such cases.
In this post, we’ll explain what Texas considers aggravated sexual assault of a child, the penalties, and the defenses against these charges.
How does Texas define aggravated sexual assault of a child?
According to Texas Penal Code § 22.021, someone can be convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child if the child is under 14 years old and it’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they knowingly or intentionally did one of the following acts:
- Caused penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means;
- Caused penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor;
- Caused a sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
- Caused the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
- Caused the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor.
Or, if the minor was aged 14 to 16:
- A deadly weapon was used
- A threat of serious bodily injury or death to the victim or another is made
- Drugs or alcohol was used
- The defendant acts in concert with another
- Any other aggravating factor is found
What if I didn’t know the child’s age?
It doesn’t matter whether the defendant knew the child’s age or if the child lied about their age at the time of the offense. Not knowing the child’s age is not a defense in Texas.
What if the child willingly participated in sex?
Children, by definition, can’t give consent, which means anyone younger than 17 in Texas cannot legally give consent. Texas law, however, allows for scenarios that include two minors having a consensual sexual relationship so that teens in this situation aren’t unfairly prosecuted.
What is the Romeo and Juliet Law in Texas?
Texas Penal Code 22.011 describes the affirmative defense to sexual assault of a child, which is often referred to as the Romeo and Juliet law. The law hopes to protect young adults and teenagers three years or less apart in age (and over age 14 and consensual) from prosecution and severe convictions. In such cases, sex crime charges can often be reduced or dismissed.
Important note: A person can still be arrested and charged with the offense. This affirmative defense can only be raised in court. It cannot be raised when the victim is 13 or younger.
Can a 16-year-old legally date an 18-year-old in Texas?
Yes, as long as the couple is no more than three years apart, a sexual relationship between teens aged 16 and 18 is legal. However, under Texas law, consensual sex would be considered statutory rape if the older person was 20 or, the younger person was 14.
Are you required to register as a sex offender for aggravated sexual assault of a child?
Yes, a conviction for aggravated sexual assault of a child requires defendants to register with the National Sex Offender Public website and the Texas Public Sex Offender website.
Registering as a sex offender can put limitations on your employment and housing and can affect your relationship with your own children.
What are the defenses against aggravated sexual assault of a child?
Allegations of aggravated sexual assault of a child are sometimes the result of an adult with an axe to grind.
Especially during a tense custody battle or divorce, one party can coerce a child into a false accusation. But false accusations of child sexual assault don’t only happen during an ugly divorce. Any person who spends time with young children is susceptible to such accusations.
These are particularly tough cases because aggravated sexual assault of a child charges are almost always based solely on a child’s testimony. Corroborating physical evidence is rare in such cases.
Law enforcement officers and Child Protective Services agents can often lead a child to answer questions during an investigation in a manner that points towards a crime and steers the child into answering in a specific way.
We all want to protect children. But the seed of an allegation in the mind of police or CPS agent could cause them to be too quick to point fingers even if a sexual assault didn’t happen or the wrong adult is being accused.
Remember, prosecutors must prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant doesn’t have to prove they didn’t commit the crime. They don’t have to prove anything.
If the state doesn’t convince a jury that their story is the only reasonable way the alleged incident occurred, then the jury has no choice but to find a not-guilty verdict. The presumption of innocence prevails with any reasonable doubt. A skillful Dallas child sexual assault lawyer will work this to their advantage.
Are you facing Dallas aggravated sexual assault of a child? Call us.
This can’t be stressed enough: If you believe for any reason that someone is accusing you or about to accuse you of aggravated sexual assault of a child, don’t wait around for investigators to visit you. You need to contact a top Dallas child sexual assault lawyer immediately. The sooner one of the experienced defense lawyers at Varghese Summersett is working for you, the better chance we have of the best possible outcome in your case.
Our team of defense attorneys includes Board Certified defense lawyers and former prosecutors who know how the state handles sex crimes against children.
For a free consultation, call us at 214-903-4000.