Rape and statutory rape are offenses that Texas Department of Criminal Justice takes very seriously. The Texas Penal Code states that both are sexual assaults that can be charged from a range of 2nd-degree felonies (2-20 years in prison) to 1st-degree felony (5-99 years) where the offender isn’t qualified for parole, not until they have served half of the sentence. If you’re facing charges for statutory rape or know of someone who is, there are a number of sex crime defense lawyers in Houston who can and will answer any questions you might have.
Characteristics of Statutory Rape
Statutory rape is defined as involvement of sexual activities where one of the individuals is below the age of consent. Although the sexual interactions are non-forcible, most people typically phrase it as an adult having sexual relations with a minor.
The age of consent varies from state to state. However, the age of consent in Texas is set to be 17 years. And since Texas Department of Criminal Justice is very strict about the offense, “Romeo and Juliet laws” aren’t applicable in Texas.
The Romeo and Juliet laws are put in place to exempt charges when the individuals involved in the offense are close-in-age whose range shouldn’t be more than 3years. This means that the perpetrators who are engaged in consensual sex under the age of 17 years no matter how small the age gap is, can still be prosecuted for statutory rape in the State of Texas.
Factors that Enhance Punishment for Statutory Rape
The two primary factors that contribute to the degree of the offense are:
- The victim’s age – the further away under the age of consent the victim is, the higher the level of the offense.
- The difference of age between the victim and the perpetrator – the bigger the gap in age difference, the more serious the offense will be prosecuted.
Other subsidiary factors that can heighten the severity of the punishment for statutory rape offense will depend whether alcohol and drugs were involved, if there were there prior offenses before the incident (use of force or threaten with a deadly weapon), and if there are aftermath outcomes like pregnancy after the offense.
Punishment of Statutory Rape
Charges incurred from statutory rape punishable by the criminal law in Texas depends on the extent of the offense and whether other multiple offenses were performed as aforementioned. Well, the general punishment includes:
- Mandatory jail or prison sentences
- High amount of fines
- Mandated treatment services
- Probation and community service work
The Defense Strategy for Sex Crimes
When convicted of statutory rape, there are strategies that your lawyer can use to get you acquitted of the charges.
- Mistaken age
Your lawyer may argue that you weren’t aware of the victim’s age and you believed he/she was above the age of consent.
- Martial Exemption
The criminal law protects married couples so if the offender and the minor were married; the defendant can’t be prosecuted.
When you are convicted of statutory rape and completed your sentences, or you’ve paid your dues of the punishment, you will be registered as a sex offender. That is a brand that will haunt you in the most parts of your life because it will be hard to get jobs with such a record and also your social life around people who know you won’t be the same. This is the reason why you need to get a good lawyer on your side.