Few allegations are more devastating than being accused of inappropriate sexual conduct. The mere allegation of engaging in non-consensual sex can have an immediate and long-lasting impact on the person accused. Allegations such as sexual assault, indecency with a child, and continuous sexual abuse of a child are some of the most serious allegations a person can face. In its efforts to protect the victims of sex crimes, the Texas Legislature has made it very difficult to defend against these charges.
In Texas, when an allegation of sexual misconduct involves touching but not sexual penetration the government will typically charge the offense of Indecency With a Child. If it can be proven that a person touched the genitals, breasts, or anus of an alleged victim, then the person may be convicted of Indecency With a Child By Contact. This second degree felony is punished in the same manner as Sexual Assault of a Child. If the indecent conduct only involved the exposure of a person’s (or the victim’s) sexual organ, breasts, or anus then the offense is considered Indecency by Exposure and is punished as a third degree felony carrying a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and 10 years of sex offender registration.
Similarly, Sexual Assault of a Child may be alleged in a number of different ways when the allegation says that any penetration of the victim’s sexual organ, anus, or mouth occurred. The main difference between Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and Sexual Assault of a Child is that Sexual Assault of a Child covers offenses against victims who are at least 14 but not older than 17. Sexual Assault of a Child is a second degree felony punishable by between 2 years and up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Life time registration as a sex offender also applies to Sexual Assault of a Child.
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. The legislature has described a number of different ways in which a person may be guilty of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, but one of the most common allegations is when a person is accused of engaging in sexual contact with a child under the age of 14. Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is punishable as a first degree felony with a punishment range between 5 years – 99 years/life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and life time registration as a sex offender.
One of the most serious sexual misconduct charges a person case face is called Continuous Abuse of a Child or Children. The law states that when a person has engaged in at least 2 instances of sexual contact with a child younger than 14 years old within a period of 30 days or more they have committed Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child. A person charged with Continuous Sex Abuse of a Child faces a minimum punishment range of 25 years in prison and could receive a life sentence; if convicted, probation is not a possibility. Additionally, a person convicted of this offense cannot receive parole and must serve their entire sentence. The offense also requires life time registration as a sex offender even after release from prison.
If a person is convicted or placed on probation for a sex crime, Texas law requires the individual to register as a sex offender. The person’s name is entered into a public database which is maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, the person may be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his or her life.
Once a person is a registered sex offender, he or she will be required to comply with numerous conditions and restrictions related to among other things, where the person can live, where the person can work, as well as when and how they can use the internet. If a person violates the conditions of sex offender registration, the person can be charged with an entirely new felony offense which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In certain limited situations a person who was required to register under Texas law as a sex offender may be able to ask a court to remove his or her name from the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry. Whether or not a person is able to deregister depends not only on Texas law but also on specific provisions of federal law. Deregistration can be both complicated and time-consuming so retaining an experienced criminal attorney is an important part of clearing your record.