TX Criminal Lawyers of Broden & Mickelsen Discuss how statutory rape is a felony offense that’s often hard to defend. Learn more about what the statutory rape laws mean in the state of Texas.
Biology tells us that as humans, the centers of logic and decision making in our brains are not fully developed until we’re a few years past our twentieth birthday. It’s this ongoing development that will cause even the most mature teenager to make an occasional immature mistake. In every state, laws are put in place to protect teens and young adults from being victim to their own misguided actions – for example, statutory rape laws.
Statutory rape is used to describe the crime that occurs when an adult has consensual sexual relations with someone under the legal age of consent, and those who commit this crime can be found guilty of felony charges. If you are facing charges for statutory rape in Texas, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in Dallas that has experience handling these types of cases.
Understanding Statutory Rape and Consent Involving Minors
As mentioned, charges of statutory rape apply to any act of sexual conduct or sexual penetration with a consenting minor – consenting being the keyword. There are some common misconceptions about statutory rape and consent, however, Texas law states that a minor is not capable of granting consent until they’ve reached the age of 17.
With few exceptions, the age difference between the consenting teen and the perpetrator does not matter in cases of statutory rape. For example, a 22-year-old college student who sexually engages with a 16-year-old is just as guilty of criminal activity as someone twice their age.
It’s important to recognize that the age of consent is different in each state. While the legal age of consent in Texas is 17, some of the bordering states have different laws. For example, the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, while 18 is the legal age of consent in Arkansas. (1)
Statutory Rape Laws in Texas
Considering that the legal age of consent varies from state to state, it’s important to fully understand the statutory rape laws in Texas, as outlined in the state’s Penal Code Sections 21.11 and 22.011. (2)
Unlike other types of sexual crimes, statutory rape does not involve force or coercion. However, the state of Texas considers anyone under the legal age of 17 to be incapable of providing consent for sexual interactions. Because of this, statutory rape is considered a strict liability crime – meaning that intention is not a factor in determining guilt or innocence.
Statutory rape in Texas falls under three different classifications.
- Indecency with a child – sexual contact other than penetration with a minor who is under the age of 17
- Sexual assault – sexual penetration with a minor who is under the age of 17
- Aggravated sexual assault – sexual penetration with a minor who is under the age of 14
There is one exception to the statutory rape laws in Texas, commonly referred to as the Romeo and Juliet Law. This exception is designed to prevent charges against young adults who engage in sexual activities with someone close to their own age, even if they’re under the legal age of consent. The exception applies to minors between the ages of 14 and 17 who engage in sexual activities with another person who is no more than three years their senior. For example, a 19-year-old who has sexual relations with a 16-year-old may be exempt from statutory rape charges.
It’s important to note that there is no leniency with the Romeo and Juliet exemption. If a 19-year-old sexually engages with someone who is 15 rather than 16, they can be charged with statutory rape.
Penalties of Statutory Rape in Texas
Developing a defense strategy for statutory rape charges can prove to be difficult. Reason being that as a strict liability crime, the fact that a person under 17 years of age may have misrepresented their age is not considered a valid defense. The burden is entirely upon the individual to keep themselves out of situations where there’s even a possibility of statutory rape charges.
If charged and convicted, the penalties for statutory rape depends on the type of contact and the age of the minor. In reference to the breakdown of charges listed above, possible penalties of statutory rape include:
- Indecency with a child – A second-degree felony with a possible penalty of 2 to 20 years in prison, plus fines
- Sexual assault – A second-degree felony with a possible penalty of 2 to 20 years in prison, plus fines
- Aggravated sexual assault – A third-degree felony with a possible penalty of 5 to 99 years in prison, plus fines
When You Need a Statutory Rape Attorney in Dallas
Many defendants make the mistake of thinking it’s simple to escape statutory rape charges by proving ignorance of the minor’s real age. Statutory rape is a serious felony crime and being convicted can result in incarceration and being mandated to comply with the state sex offender registry. The best chance for defending your freedom is by getting in touch with Dallas Best Criminal Defense Attorney Mick Mickelsen who understands statutory rape and consent laws in Texas.
TX Criminal Lawyers of Broden & Mickelsen
***Dallas Criminal Lawyers of Broden & Mickelsen — ATTORNEY ADVERTISING TERMS***
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.