How harsh are Texas penalties for sexual assault of a child?
If the child was under 14 years old, the offense becomes aggravated sexual assault of a child, a crime for which there can be no consent for any sexual activity, since 17 is the age of consent in Texas.
A conviction for this first-degree felony can bring a prison sentence of 99 years—or life in prison—and a fine of up to $10,000.
But Texas sentences can vary widely.
For instance, a Houston man was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy at his home, where his parents had left the boy with the man as his babysitter for 5 consecutive Saturdays.
As reported by KTRK ABC13.com, the boy later told his parents about the assaults, and his parents informed the Harris County Sheriff’s Department.
The 53-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child, and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with parole possible. He also will have to become a registered sex offender for life upon his release.
The guilty plea assured that the man would be convicted and also may have contributed to him avoiding an even worse sentence.
Age of child is a factor in punishments
A Texas sex crime sentence would be even worse for those found guilty of the crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 6. Upon conviction, a defendant of this offense could be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison, or could be sentenced to up to life in prison with no chance of parole, along with facing a $10,000 fine.
Under the Texas Penal Code on assaultive offenses, persons with a previous conviction for a violent sexual offense may be sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole for the crime of aggravated sexual assault.
The minimum prison sentence for the crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 is 5 years. A defendant also may have a chance for deferred adjudication—or probation—if they are a first-time offender without having been previously placed on community supervision for sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault or indecency with a child.
The under-14 age of the victim is what makes the crime an “aggravated” sexual assault. If the assault was against an adult, it would be considered an aggravated sexual assault only if a weapon was used, if there was a serious threat or even violence, if there was the use of a so-called date rape drug, or if the assault was against a person who was elderly or disabled.
Also, there is no statute of limitations in Texas restricting the time frame within which a person may be charged with the crime of sexual assault of a child or indecency with a child. Ten or more years may have passed since the alleged assault, but a person still could be charged.
In addition, a defendant’s claim that he or she did not know the age of the victim at the time of the crime is not allowable in Texas for a case of sexual assault of a child.
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Get help from an experienced Houston sex crime defense attorney
As you can see, Texas sexual assault charges and punishments are extremely serious, and it is vital that defendants get an experienced sex crime defense attorney or Texas criminal defense lawyer to handle their case.
Not everyone accused of such crimes is guilty of having committed them. Some cases hinge on false claims, which may be due to misidentifying a suspect. Others may involve false claims made to gain leverage in a bitter custody battle.
Sexual assault of a child is a serious offense for which defendants need a skilled defense.
If someone in your family faces a charge of aggravated sexual assault, contact a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer at our law firm. We have years of experience helping clients in the Houston area, including those in Sugar Land, The Woodlands and Conroe, as well as throughout Harris County.