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Texas Sexual Assault Laws

Overview of Texas Sexual Assault Laws

Sexual assault is a serious criminal violation of Texas state law. Sexual assault, commonly known as rape, occurs when a defendant -- intentionally and knowingly -- commits any of a number of prohibited sexual activities listed under Texas' sexual assault law without the victim's consent.

For purposes of Texas sexual assault law, a "child" is a person younger than 17 years of age. The act is considered to have been without the victim's consent if physical violence was threatened or used in order to get the victim to submit or participate to the defendant's actions. Also, if the victim for any reason is physically unable to resist or appreciate the nature of the act being performed, there is a lack of consent. Consent is lacking in any situation where the defendant is in a place of power or charged with the care of the victim. This includes the defendant being a health care services provider, clergyman, public servant, or an employee of a facility where the victim resides.

This charge may be elevated to that of aggravated sexual assault if any of the following occur during the commission of the sexual assault:

  • The defendant has caused serious bodily injury or attempted to cause the death of the victim;
  • The defendant placed the victim in fear of death, serious bodily injury or kidnapping to the victim's self or to another person; 
  • A deadly weapon was used or exhibited during the crime;
  • The defendant acted with another individual in committing the crime;
  • The "date rape drug" also known as rohypnol or ketamine was used with the intent of making the offense easier to commit;
  • The victim is younger than 14 years of age;
  • The victim is an elderly or disabled individual.

Defenses to Sexual Assault Charges

  • The conduct consisted of medical care for a child and did not include the contact or penetration of the child's mouth, anus or sexual organ by any of the same belonging to the defendant.
  • The defendant was the child's spouse at the time of the offense; or
  • The defendant was no more than three years older than the child at the time of the offense, and the child was 14 years of age or older and the child was not prohibited from marrying the defendant
  • Lack of intent
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Consent of the victim
  • Insanity of the defendant

See Sexual Assault Defenses for more general information.

Penalties and Sentences

A sexual assault is typically a second degree felony. This carries a sentence of two to twenty years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. However, this crime may be elevated to a first degree felony if the victim was a person whom the defendant was prohibited from marrying or was prohibited from living under the appearance of being married to the victim. A first degree felony in Texas is punishable by five to ninety-nine years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Aggravated sexual assault is a first degree felony. The minimum prison sentence may be twenty-five years in the event that the victim is younger than 6 years of age when the crime was committed or if the victim was younger than 14 years of age and either a deadly weapon was used or exhibited, the child was seriously hurt, the defendant attempted to kill the child, or the defendant used drugs to facilitate the crime.

See Sexual Assault Penalties and Sentencing to learn more.

Texas Sexual Assault Laws: Statute

Texas Sexual Assault Statute (Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Sections 22.011 and 22.021 -- Scroll down to the sections on sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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