Sex assaults in Austin often are serious crimes with heavy sentences. However, as few as 10 percent end up in convictions, police revealed in a recent report.
Austin’s public safety commission asked police officials for a snapshot of the criminal justice process in sexual violence cases, The Statesman reported in March.
The report they received was a reminder about how few prosecutions end up in convictions.
At the commission’s monthly meeting in March, Austin police officials gave a detailed breakdown of 113 sexual assaults. The cases in question dated from January to March 2015. The three-month period was a random sample.
Only 10 of the alleged sex assaults led to indictments, the data showed. Travis County prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to make a case in 49 of those 113 cases. In another 40 cases the victim did not want police to pursue the case, officials said.
The Statesman report said many of the sex assault prosecutions were unraveling even before the closure of the city’s DNA lab which has caused issues with the testing of rape kits.
The report said of the 10 cases that resulted in arrest some are still pending. It reported:
- Four of the cases ended up in charges other than sexual assault.
- One case was dismissed.
- One perpetrator was sentenced to three years in prison.
- Another offender took a plea deal and served 120 days
Although this report suggested many sex assault cases were not leading to convictions, it’s not clear why these cases do not proceed. In some cases, a claim of sexual assault is spurious or made as part of a domestic argument when no such assault occurred. The Texas Penal Code deals very seriously with these offenses.
The Penalties for Sex Assaults in Texas
Sexual assault, commonly known as rape, can occur in a range of scenarios when the offense is committed without the victim’s consent. The Texas Penal Code lists those circumstances here.
Typically, a sex assault is a second-degree felony in Texas. It carries a sentence of two to twenty years in a state prison along with a fine of up to $10,000.
Rape may be elevated to a first-degree felony if the victim is under 17-years-old. If you are convicted of a first-degree felony in Texas, you can face five to 99 years in a state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.
Aggravated sexual assault is also first-degree felony. It can carry a minimum sentence of 25 years if the victim is younger than six when the crime was committed or if the victim was under 14 and either a deadly weapon was used or displayed, the child was seriously injured, the defendant tried to kill the child, or used drugs in the sex assault. Read more about assaults here.
These are serious charges. If you have been charged with a sex assault, you should contact our experienced Austin criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible at (512) 474-4445.