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What’s the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment?

While both sexual assault and sexual harassment are illegal types of sexual misconduct, there are distinct differences between the two. Sexual harassment is a civil matter that often arises out of employment-related disputes and does not always constitute criminal conduct. On the other hand, sexual assault is a criminal offense under Texas law.

What’s the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment?

The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits gender discrimination in workplaces with 15 or more employees, such as sexual harassment. Additionally, Texas law prohibits discrimination in all workplaces. Violations of these laws carry civil penalties and typically result in an award of monetary damages for the victim, which the employer may pay; the employer also may fire or demote the perpetrator of the sexual harassment. Sexual harassment consists of unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other sexually-based actions that are:

·         so “serious and pervasive” as to create a “hostile work environment”, or

·         made a condition of hiring, maintaining employment, or receiving a job-related benefit by a person in a position of authority over the victim

In some cases, sexual harassment does constitute criminal conduct. Potential criminal offenses that might arise out of sexual harassment include disorderly conduct, public lewdness, indecent exposure, and even sexual assault.

Sexual assault is a serious criminal offense; at a minimum, sexual assault is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Under Texas law, this criminal offense encompasses a wide range of non-consensual sexual contact. 

If you find yourself charged with sexual assault, sexual harassment, or any other type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. The consequences of a sexual assault or sexual harassment conviction can be serious, no matter what type of criminal charges you may be facing. As a result, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for adults who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

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