What Is the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas?

sexual assault

Sexual assault is a serious crime that can result in severe punishments if a defendant is convicted. In 2017, there were over 18,000 reported cases of sexual assault, and likely many more cases that went unreported. Sexual assault is unquestionably traumatizing for the victim and can lead to lifelong mental stress and emotional pain.

Unfortunately, there are also cases in which someone is wrongfully accused of sexual assault. Once a person is accused, they may feel like everything is stacked against them. This is where our sex crime defense lawyers come in to help you.

While the American justice system guarantees that everyone accused of sexual assault is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the court of public opinion can pass judgment much more swiftly. This can cause irreparable damage to an individual’s reputation, personal relationships, and other important areas of their life. Tragically, wrongful convictions can and do happen, which can lead to an innocent person being convicted, incarcerated, and subject to other penalties.

One common question people ask upon being charged with sexual assault is whether certain types of sexual assault carry more serious consequences than others. If you’ve been accused of sexual assault, it’s important to understand the difference between sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, as an aggravated charge will mean much more severe penalties if you are convicted.

Sexual Assault in Texas

Under Texas law, sexual assault is defined as an unlawful act where someone intentionally or knowingly penetrates another individual’s mouth, anus, or sexual organs without that person’s consent. It’s important to note that certain individuals are legally unable to give consent. For example, an unconscious person can’t give consent under the law, nor can a child under the age of 17 consent to sex. In addition, a person under the authority of someone in a position of power, such as a police officer, can’t legally consent to sex if the person in a position of authority used their position to engage in sexual misconduct.

In Texas as in other states, sexual assault is an extremely serious crime. Prosecutors pursue sexual assault aggressively, and the penalties are severe and life-changing. Under Texas law, sexual assault is charged as a second-degree felony, which carries a minimum two-year prison sentence. Depending on the nature of the crime, an individual can face up to 20 years in prison. A conviction for sexual assault in Texas can also result in a $10,000 fine, as well as the requirement to register as a sex offender for life.

To recap, the penalties for a sexual assault conviction in Texas include:

  • Between two and 20 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Requirement to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life

Depending on the case and the nature of the crime, a defendant may face additional penalties, including but not limited to restitution paid to the victim.

Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas

Aggravated sexual assault in Texas is a more serious charge than sexual assault. Under Texas law, aggravated sexual assault is defined as an individual who intentionally or knowingly causes harm or threatens harm to someone else through a sexual attack without that person’s consent and with an aggravating factor involved.

There are a number of factors the law considers an aggravating factor. For example, sexual activity with anyone under the age of 14 is an aggravating factor that can lead to a charge of aggravated sexual assault. Additionally, an individual who uses illegal substances to carry out a sexual assault or someone who causes or threatens physical harm or makes the victim fear death can be charged with aggravated sexual assault. Someone who carries out a sexual assault with another perpetrator can also be charged with sexual assault.

Aggravated sexual assault is charged as a first-degree felony under Texas law, and it carries additional prison time compared to sexual assault. If the victim is under the age of 14, the minimum prison sentence is 25 years old.

To recap, the penalties for an aggravated sexual assault conviction in Texas include:

  • Up to life imprisonment
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Requirement to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life

Texas law also imposes additional penalties if an individual is convicted of sexual assault where the victim was under six years old.

Discuss Your Case with a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault in the state of Texas, you should speak with a Dallas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced Texas sexual assault defense lawyer can review your case and help you determine the next steps you should take to defend your freedom and reputation. These are serious charges, and the consequences of a conviction can change your life forever. Don’t delay discussing your case with a Texas sexual assault defense attorney.


  1. https://www.dps.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/crimereports/17/citch7.pdf
  2. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.22.htm

At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we are experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to providing aggressive and ethical representation to individuals and businesses charged with crimes.