In accordance with Texas Penal Code, consent is “assent in fact, whether express or apparent.” It means agreeing to a sexual act, and it should be expressly stated or made explicit by the other person’s actions.
A lack of consent is clear when the other person says they don’t want to engage in an act, attempts to fight back, or are unable to legally consent due to age, intoxication, incapacitation, or because they are asleep or unconscious.
It is also essential to understand that nothing about a person’s previous sexual history, relationship with the other person, appearance, or agreement to hang out implies consent to a new sexual act.
If you are unsure about the meaning of consent, then it is important to understand exactly what it means. When you engage in a sexual act with another person, consent will determine whether your actions are acceptable or illegal.
If You are Facing Sex Crime Charges, Call An Experienced Defense Lawyer Immediately
If you are being accused of a sex-related crime in Texas, then you should seek legal representation as quickly as possible. Once accusations become public knowledge, you may quickly be faced with both social and legal challenges, and it is important that you have the proper guidance.
Our criminal defense attorneys are highly experienced in sex-crime accusations and will provide the support and legal assistance you need to maximize your chances of a good outcome. As part of the attorney-client relationship, you can be completely open and honest with your attorney without fear of judgment or repercussions so that we can advise you based on the facts of your case.
Contact us for an initial consultation, where we will review the facts of the case, discuss the potential penalties you could be facing, and will begin working on a strong defense strategy.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer could be the most important decision of your life. So contact The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC today at 832-471-6904.
So, let’s explore the question – What is Lack of Consent in Texas?
Is Engaging in Sexual Activity Without Consent a Crime?
Yes. Any sexual act that is considered non-consensual is a crime. Consent is a complex topic. Firstly, both parties must explicitly agree to the sexual act. Additionally, both parties must be in a position to be able to consent, which considers age, intoxication, capacity, and more.
If you are found to have engaged in non-consensual sexual encounters, then you could be charged with various crimes, depending on the nature of the offense. Potential crimes you could be facing include:
- Sexual assault.
- Aggravated sexual assault.
- Statutory rape.
- Sexual misconduct.
- Indecent exposure.
- Solicitation of a minor.
- Possession of child pornography.
- Public lewdness.
What is The Age of Consent in Texas?
In accordance with Texas consent laws, the age of consent is 17. That means that any kind of sexual activity towards a person under the age of 17 is a crime regardless of whether they agree to it or not.
Minors cannot legally consent to any sexual contact, and if an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor, they could face a range of charges, including child molestation, statutory rape, indecency with a child by exposure, or indecency with a child by contact.
If you are convicted of a sex-crime involving a minor, on top of criminal penalties, you would also need to register as a sex offender, which would have a big impact on your life. It could seriously impact your ability to find work, housing, and even your rights to your own children.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, including Texas’s “Romeo and Juliet” laws. These laws allow sexual activity if the parties are close in age. If a person aged 17 or older has consensual sexual contact with someone who is three years younger or less, then they are protected by the Romeo and Juliet laws. However, if a person is 14 or younger, then they can never consent, regardless of the age of the other party.
This means that an 18-year-old who is in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old would be protected. However, if an individual is 14 or younger, and engages in sexual activity with someone over the age of 15, then the older party will not be protected by the Romeo and Juliet laws.
Individuals who are under the age of 17 can also have non-criminal sexual relations if they are legally married to the other person. Individuals in Texas may legally marry if they are 16 or older with their parent’s permission; without parental permission, individuals must be 18 or older.
Position of Authority and Consent
Lack of consent can also be a result of the alleged offender being in a position of authority over the alleged victim. For example, a doctor, counselor, a provider of mental health services could be caused by exploiting a patient. Teachers, coaches, caregivers, or members of the clergy can also be considered to be in a position of power and can therefore be considered to have abused their position of power or influence.
Accusations of coercion can also be made if someone was previously in a position of authority over another individual.
Can Someone Give Consent While Intoxicated?
Drug and alcohol intoxication can impact the other person’s ability to consent. In accordance with Texas law, people are unable to legally consent if they’re unconscious, black-out-drunk, or if they’ve taken a mind-altering substance.
For example, alcohol is known to impact a person’s judgment. Just because someone is willing to participate in a sexual act while intoxicated, it does not mean that they would have if they were sober. A good way to ensure that you have someone’s consent is to ask them before they start drinking alcohol.
If an individual is under the influence of date rape drugs such as Rohypnol, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), ketamine, or chloral hydrate, then they cannot legally consent to any sexual act. Any type of sexual activity that occurs under these drugs is considered sexual assault.
Penalties for Non-Consensual Sexual Activity
Texas has some of the harshest penalties for non-consensual sex crimes. In the most serious cases, you could be charged with a felony which carries a jail sentence of anywhere between 25 years to life. A sexual assault conviction means a prison sentence of 2-20 years in jail.
In addition to a potential jail sentence, if you are convicted of a sex crime, you will need to register on the sex offenders list, which is available to the public.
Fines and Jail Time
The punishments for sexual offenses in Texas will depend upon the crime itself, any prior sex crime history, the age of those involved, and any pre-existing relationship between the parties
Some examples of misdemeanors include indecent exposure, public lewdness, and prostitution.
Misdemeanor crimes carry the following penalties:
- Class C Misdemeanors – A fine of up to $500.
- Class D Misdemeanors – A fine of up to $2,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 180 days.
- Class E Misdemeanors – A fine of up to $4,000 and a maximum prison sentence of up to one year.
There are circumstances where these crimes, which are typically misdemeanors, could be upgraded to a felony. There are also sex crimes that are almost always treated as felonies, including statutory rate, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and child sex offenses, including indecency involving a minor, grooming, prostitution, and trafficking.
Felony crimes carry the following penalties:
- State Jail Felony – A fine of up to $10,000 and between 180 days and two years in jail.
- First-Degree Felony – A fine of up to $10,000 and between five years and life in prison.
- Second-Degree Felony – A fine of up to $10,000 and between two and twenty years in prison.
- Third-Degree Felony – A fine of up to $10,000 and between two and ten years in prison.
Sex Offender Registration
A sex crime conviction will also result in your name being placed on the Sex Offender Registry. This is a public record, and many sex crimes lead to a life-long sex offender registration, including sexual assault, possession or child pornography, and sex trafficking.
Other sex crimes lead to sex offender registration for a period of ten years, including indecent exposure, online grooming of a minor, and indecency involving a child.
Sex offender registration can have a severe impact on someone’s life. Anyone can access these records leading to serious social implications.
Further Consequences of a Sex-Crime Conviction
A sex crime conviction can have far-reaching consequences that go beyond the traditional criminal law system, including:
- Restrictions on where you can live.
- Job loss.
- Difficulties securing employment.
- Limited access to controlled substances.
- Restricted interactions with minors, potentially including your own.
- Limitations of internet access.
- Forfeiture of property and cash.
A conviction of a sex crime is often the biggest life-changing event a person experiences. At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we understand the potential impact that a conviction could have on your life and will fight tirelessly to secure a positive outcome in your case.
How to Defend Yourself Against Sex Crime Accusations
If you are facing sex crime accusations, then the best thing you can do is to secure representation from an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. They will explore all possible defenses to your case and will work tirelessly to protect your rights. Even if you believe you are innocent, it is still essential that you have representation from an attorney who can help to establish the facts.
For sexual activity to be considered a crime, there must have been a lack of consent. Therefore, one of the most common defenses is to argue that there was consent. However, this defense strategy can only be used if the other party is an adult who was not mentally incapacitated or intoxicated at the time.
Another common defense strategy is to state a ‘mistake of fact’, meaning that you did not commit the crime. Your attorney will review the evidence against you and will analyze how strong it is and whether there are any gaps that can be exploited.
Your case may also be thrown out if the police violated your rights during the arrest or investigation. Therefore, your attorney will review how your case was handled to determine if the police acted with the correct conduct.
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we understand that every case is different. Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the law and are prepared to handle each case with adaptability and a fresh perspective.
Unlike other criminal investigations, reputation damage can begin before you are even charged. Therefore, early legal intervention is critical, and the sooner you contact us, the better.
Contact an Experienced Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Today
If you are in Texas and facing sex crime allegations, then you should contact The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC as soon as possible. Sex crime accusations are life-changing, and you should do everything possible to protect your future.
Our law firm is composed of highly experienced and respected Texas criminal defense attorneys, including a former prosecutor. We boast countless victories and a long list of happy clients, and we will fight aggressively for your freedom.