There is not one act that constitutes sexual abuse or sexual assault. Both allegations can cover a wide range of acts, from persistent and unwanted non-consensual touching to rape.
No matter the level of physical contact that is involved, the victim who has been sexually assaulted, in particular a first-time victim, can feel traumatized and emotionally pained long after the unwanted physical contact occurred.
If an arrest has been made and the matter comes to trial, the victim fears that they will once again have to confront the abuser and be forced to give and listen to painful testimony.
There is no doubt that South Texas treats sexual assault charges very seriously. The judicial system aggressively prosecutes offenders who, after a trial and conviction, are likely to face jail time and a possible fine.
Further, a conviction for sexual assault means that the offender will have to register for life as a sex offender.
A conviction of the party guilty of sexual abuse will not only punish the offender, but will also bring some measure of relief and vindication to the victim.
Nonetheless, the victim may still feel that justice is incomplete, as many of their problems remain.
The Austin Hagee Law Firm, PLLC of San Antonio, has deep knowledge and experience with the Texas Penal Code and the operation and enforcement of the sexual assault statutes.
We are dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault receive financial compensation for their continuing injuries and helping those who have been charged for the first time with sexual assault.
Sexual Assault Laws in Texas
Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code section 22.011 defines sexual assault as:
- “ A person commits an offense if:
- The person intentionally or knowingly:
- causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent;
- causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor without the person’s consent; or
- causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor.”
Pursuant to the statute, it is irrelevant if the actor did not know the true age of the other person and believed that the individual was an adult.
Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code at subsection (b) defines in great detail the lack of consent that most be present for there to be a sexual assault conviction. A lack of consent can be shown if:
- The actor forced the other person to submit or participate by using physical force or violence;
- The actor forced the other person to submit or participate by threatening to use force or violence in such a manner that the other person believed that force or violence would be used;
- The actor knew that the other person had not consented because the other person was either unconscious or otherwise physically unable to resist;
- The actor knew that the other person had a mental defect or disease that at the time of the sexual assault made the other person incapable of resisting;
- The actor knew that other person had not consented and was further unaware that a sexual assault was occurring;
- The actor intentionally impaired the other person’s power to resist or appraise the situation by administering a substance without the other person’s knowledge.
The absence of these factors could be raised as a defense to prove that a sexual assault had not taken place and that the parties had knowingly consented to the act.
Skilled San Antonio sexual abuse attorneys will use their experience and ability to show that the parties had indeed consented to the act in question and that a sexual assault had not occurred.
Additional sections of the Texas Penal Code address other types of sexual assault:
- Section 21.02 addresses the crime of the Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child or Children;
- Section 21.11(a)(1) addresses the crime of Indecency with a Child by Contact;
- Section 21.11(a)(2) addresses the crime of Indecency with a Child by Exposure;
- Section 22.021 addresses the crime of Aggravated Sexual Assault.
Types of Sexual Violence in Texas
The Texas Penal Code addresses the various types of sexual violence in great detail. A quick summary of them includes:
- Sexual Assault: The knowing and intentional penetration of the sexual organ or mouth of another person without the latter’s consent.
- Aggravated Sexual Assault: The knowing and intentional commission of a sexual assault in which the actor threatens to cause serious bodily injury or death to the other person. Or, causes the other person to fear serious bodily injury or death, threatens to cause serious bodily injury or death to the other person, uses a deadly weapon during the course of the sexual assault. Aggravated sexual assault can also be charged when the victim is elderly, disabled, or under the age of 14.
- Indecency with a Child: Occurs when a person exposes their genitalia to a child or engages in sexual conduct with a child fit the purpose of satisfying their sexual desires.
Penalties for Sexual Assault Offenses in San Antonio
In South Texas, the penalties for a sexual conduct offense conviction are severe. They can range from third-degree felonies to first-degree felonies, depending upon the facts, circumstances, and severity of the case.
A conviction for sexual assault under the afore-quoted section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code, the most common offense, is generally classified as a second-degree felony.
It could be elevated to a first-degree felony if the victim was an individual whom the perpetrator was prohibited from marrying pursuant to state law.
Penalties in Texas for third-degree felony convictions for a sexual offense range from two to ten years in jail and a potential fine of up to $10,000. Penalties for a second-degree felony conviction range from two to twenty years in jail and a potential fine of up to $10,000.
Penalties for a first-degree felony conviction, the most severe conviction, ranging from five to ninety-nine years in jail and a possible fine of up to $10,000.
Don’t Waste Time: Contact Our San Antonio Sexual Abuse Attorneys Today
If you are facing charges of sexual assault, have been wrongfully accused of sexual assault, or are a victim of sexual assault, it is imperative that you retain knowledgeable and skilled counsel from experienced sexual assault attorneys.