The Texas legislature created a new criminal offense that will go into effect as of September 1, 2019. This offense, which is titled “Indecent Assault,” is an amendment to Tex. Pen. Code § 22.012. Individuals commit indecent assault when they take any of the following actions without consent and with the intentions of sexually arousing or gratifying themselves or another:
- Touches the anus, breasts, or genitals of another
- Touches another with the anus, breasts, or genitals of any other person
- Exposes or attempts to expose the genitals and several other body parts of others
- Causes another to have contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva, feces, or urine of any other person
Indecent assault is classified as a Class A misdemeanor under Texas law. Individuals convicted of this offense may face up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.
Before the passage of this law, the nonconsensual groping of other adults was only a Class C misdemeanor that carried the potential for a maximum $500 fine. Individuals could not face arrest or jail time for committing the offense. The punishment was equivalent to that for a traffic citation. Texas was one of only six states that had not criminalized sexual assault until it rose to the level of rape.
Lawmakers saw a huge gap in the existing law by relegating groping to what was essentially non-criminal penalties. Now, the offense is on the same level of assault and can expose those who commit this offense to arrest and jail time. If you or a family member is facing any criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.