Learn what constitutes aggravated sexual assault in Texas
Aggravated sexual assault is one of the worst crimes to face due to heavy penalties. If you are found guilty, you may be required to register as a sex offender, lose your professional license and livelihood and taint your reputation. You could be looking at life imprisonment.
Learn what is considered aggravated sexual assault in Texas and why you or your loved ones need a sex crime defense attorney.
What are aggravating factors?
Under the Texas Penal Code, aggravated sexual assault is different from sexual assault. However, it combines elements of aggravated assault and sexual crimes. Such cases can also be described as aggravated indecent assault, meaning the perpetrator took advantage of the victim for sexual gratification. Sexual assault cases are elevated, depending on the circumstances.
The aggravating factors outlined under Penal Code section 22.021 include:
- Use of a weapon. The accused displayed or threatened to use or used a deadly weapon, such a knife to cause bodily harm while committing the sexual assault.
- Age of the victim. Sexual assault becomes aggravated if the victim of the crime was below the age of consent. In Texas, that is below 14 years old. It doesn’t matter whether the assailant knew the age of the victim or not. The same applies to elderly victims.
- Threat of violence. The accused threatened or attempted to cause bodily harm to the victim while committing the crime. Threats may either be words or actions by the accused.
- Status of the victim. Sexual crimes against disabled members of society are elevated. It includes anybody who cannot protect or provide for themselves due to a mental or physical disability.
- Use of drugs. The use of any drug to impair the victim’s judgment and ability to resist the advances and act aggravates the sexual crime.
The aggravated assault punishment in Texas involves jail time, fines and added restrictions. The minimum prison time for such a crime is 25 years. However, you may be facing a life sentence without parole if you have prior sexual assault cases.
Defenses to aggravated sex assault in Texas
You are innocent until proven otherwise in court.
However, the defense for aggravated sexual assault begins outside the courtroom. Mistakes like trying to contact the victim, talking to law enforcement, or agreeing to DNA testing often backfires. Insist on having a sex crime attorney from the very beginning. It will help avoid these common pitfalls and give you a fighting chance in court.
Here are some effect defenses that may apply to help get you acquitted:
The basic defense is that the accused is innocent. The defense attorney can prove that there is no way the accused could have committed the crime.
One of the most effective ways to demonstrate innocence is through an air-tight alibi. It shows to the court that the accused was elsewhere at the time the crime was committed. The alibi has to be backed by substantial evidence to prove innocence.
This defense acknowledges that the crime happened but the accused wasn’t the one who committed it. Proving you were mistakenly identified can get you acquitted. Your attorney can do this by showing that the witness is unreliable for several reasons.
For instance, the witness may have panicked under the circumstances. Danger makes people unreliable. Mistaken identity can also occur due to impaired senses. If the witness is short-sighted or it was dark, then they can’t be reliable.
It is not uncommon for people to falsely accuse someone of a crime they did not commit. Such people usually have a personal vendetta against the accused. There are 2 possibilities if you are wrongfully accused.
First, the crime happened but was committed by someone else. In such a case, an alibi or mistaken identity can get you off.
Secondly, the victim could be lying or exaggerating the facts to get you convicted. Perjury is illegal, and the accuser can face jail time. You can also sue them for defamation, libel, slander or malicious prosecution.
For any sexual assault case to hold in court, the act must have happened without consent. If you can prove that it was consensual, then the case has no legs to stand on. Proving consent is tricky. Each state has a different standard of consent.
These 3 things are looked at when analyzing consent:
- Affirmative consent. Use of words or actions to indicate agreement to a sexual act.
- Freely given consent. Did the person agree without coercion, fraud, violence or threat to violence?
- Capacity to consent. Has the victim reached the legal age of consent? In Texas, anybody below 14 years old cannot legally consent.
Using the insanity defense means the accused admits to the crime but seeks leniency due to a mental condition. Under Texas Penal Code §8.01, the defendant must provide evidence of such a mental condition.
For you to be considered legally insane, the mental illness must make it impossible for you to distinguish between right and wrong. It requires that a notice be provided to the court if you plan to use the insanity defense.
Get help from an experienced Houston sex crimes attorney
In addition to possible long sentences, facing an aggravated sex assault in Texas can be damaging to your career, reputation and family. You should never try to face such accusations without an experienced sex crimes attorney by your side to reduce the sentence or having the charges dismissed altogether.
Don’t take any chances.