Houston Criminal Law Blog


What is a Sex Crime?

Sex crimes are very serious criminal offenses that involve using force or threats to cause a person to engage in a sexual act that he or she does not want. Some sex crimes are state offenses while others are prosecuted by the federal government. Crossing a state line during the commission of a crime increases the odds that the federal prosecution will be handling the case. The federal sentencing guidelines are typically much stricter than state punishments.

Sex Crimes and Minors

Some sex crimes may involve minors, such as indecency with a child or online solicitation of a minor. A person can be charged with a sex crime even if no direct sexual contact with another person, such as possession of child pornography. “Sexting” is a newer type of sex crime that usually pertains to minors. A minor child may send a sexual photograph of himself or herself to another person via cell phone. If a person is caught with a picture of this nature, he or she may be prosecuted under a child pornography law.

Element of Force

Some sex crimes require the use of force or the threat of force. However, not all sex crimes require force or coercion as a necessary element of the crime. Statutory rape cases do not require the government to show force was involved because the victim did not have the legal ability to consent. The same rule applies with victims that have certain disabilities.

Penalties for Sex Crimes in Texas

The punishment that a person can expect to receive from being convicted of a sex crime can vary widely. Some sex crimes are considered misdemeanors and carry lighter sentences. Other sex crimes are felonies that result in years of imprisonment. Convicted individuals may also be required to pay large fines. Certain federal statutes make a judge impose a mandatory minimum sentence that he or she is required to follow in nearly every case of that nature.

Registering as a Sex Offender

Federal law requires that individuals who are convicted of non-consensual sex crimes to register with their local police on a sex registry. This database records the address of the sex offender, as well as the person’s work address or school address. The public may have access to this information when buying a house or accepting a job offer. Sex offenders must usually keep this information current for at least 15 years after they are released from prison. A person may receive an additional 10 years in prison if he or she fails to register or keep information current.

For more information about illegal sexual acts, call The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp at 713-868-6100.

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