In the state of Texas, individuals who are age 17 and younger do not have the legal ability to give consent to sexual relations with another individual. This means that if an individual who is over the age of 18 has sex with an individual who is 17 or younger, he or she can be charged with statutory rape, which is a crime under Texas law. This is the case even if the sex was consensual and involved no violence or force.
Texas law further divides statutory rape cases into three categories, which differ in severity. The most serious of these criminal offenses is aggravated sexual assault, which is a first-degree felony. Aggravated sexual assault occurs when an individual over the age of 18 sexually penetrates a minor who is under the age of 13. A conviction for aggravated sexual assault carries a penalty ranging between five and 99 years in prison.
Sexual assault is a second-degree felony involving the sexual penetration of a minor who is age 17 or younger by an individual who is more than three years older than the minor. Indecency with a child is a second-degree felony and involves sexual contact and touching between a minor who is age 17 or younger and an individual who is more than three years older than the minor. The potential prison sentence for a second-degree felony conviction, whether for sexual assault or indecency with a child, ranges between two and 20 years in length.
There are some exceptions in these types of situations that will not lead to criminal charges. For instance, there is the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” exception, which is meant to prevent teenagers who have engaged in consensual sex from being prosecuted for a sex crime. This exception applies to a minor between the ages of 14 and 17 who has consensual sex with another individual who is less than three years older than him or her. Another exception involves consensual sex between a minor and his or her adult spouse; although their ages might result in criminal charges if the couple had sex outside of marriage, there are no criminal charges for consensual sex if the parties are married, despite an age difference.
The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here to assist you in building a strong defense against your criminal charges, no matter the circumstances. Trust us to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in defending your case. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your immigration matter.