Sexual Crimes

Knowledgeable and Effective Sex Crime Lawyer in Houston

Sex crimes are especially serious in this day and age. What some people fail to realize, though, is that there are ample gray areas in these seemingly black-and-white crimes. No matter what you’ve been charged with, you deserve a knowledgeable and compassionate Houston-based sex crime lawyer who will hear you out and help you devise a legal strategy that will restore your dignity.

Let’s briefly talk about the specifics of some of Texas’ most common sex crimes.

  • Sexual Assault – To be clear, what we commonly refer to as “rape” is codified in the Texas Penal Code as “sexual assault.” This serious crime deals with non-consensual sexual contact involving penetration between the actor and an unwilling partner. Depending on the age of the victim, sexual assault can be either a second- or first-degree felony, with prison sentences ranging from 2-20 and 5-99 years, respectively. The key in proving sexual assault on an adult is showing that there was not consent. 
  • Sex Crimes Involving Children – In Texas, there are a number of sex crimes involving children, including child sexual assault, indecency with a child, incest, sexual performance by a child, obscenity, solicitation of a minor, employment harmful to children, continuous sexual abuse of young child or children, prohibited sexual conduct, possession or promotion of child pornography, or compelling prostitution on a child younger than 18.

In Texas, a child is defined as any person younger than 17 years old. Although the terms “child” and “minor” are often used interchangeably, there’s actually one small difference between them: a minor is technically anyone under 18 years old, under the Texas Penal Code § 43.261.

  • Internet Crimes – In the 21st century, there are many ways the internet can be used to run afoul of the Texas Penal Code. In most cases, this has to do with perpetrating sex crimes against subjects who have not consented (or are unable to consent) to having intimate images and videos disseminated. Some common sexual crimes associated with using the internet are possession or promotion of child pornography, solicitation of a minor, and endorsing sex trafficking or prostitution. The majority of these charges are classified as felonies.
  • Indecent Exposure – In order to be convicted of this sex charge, a prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant exposed his or her anus and/or genitals with the intention of sexually arousing another person, and also thoughtlessly alarmed or offended someone else in the act.

Indecent exposure charges are classified as Class B misdemeanors in Texas, meaning most people who get convicted won’t face penalties steeper than a $2,000 fine and/or 120 days in jail. Repeat offenders may face harsher penalties depending on the nature of their charges.

  • Public Lewdness – If a person has sex or engages in sexual behavior while in public and alarms or offends someone else in the process, this person can be charged with public lewdness. Under Texas law, public lewdness is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties for which are a little harsher than Class B misdemeanors; convicted individuals could face up to $4,000 in fines and a year of prison time.

Keep in mind, though, that Texas public lewdness laws may extend to private areas as well. As long as someone was there to see it and become offended by it, you can still get hit with a public lewdness charge.

  • Prostitution and Solicitation – A person can get charged with prostitution if they offered to engage or solicit someone else to engage in a sexual act for a fee. The person who manages the solicitation of these services and their related finances may be charged with managing a prostitution business. These charges can extend to statutory prostitution, where a person causes a person under 18 years old to commit prostitution under any means, regardless of whether the person knew the minor’s age at the time.

The lightest charge for prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor, which is what the defendant will get if there are no aggravating factors in the case. These charges can jump to first-degree felony charges, which are often reserved for people running a prostitution business with one of more prostitutes under 18 years old. Those facing first-degree felony charges could face a prison sentence ranging from five years to life and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

  • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender – Having to register as a sex offender is hardly a walk in the park, but failing to do so can land you in even bigger trouble. Depending on your offense, you might have to register for ten years or longer, and failure to register can result in a felony charge in and of itself.

Failure to comply often takes the form of a registered sex offender moving to a new city and not notifying the proper authorities within a week’s time. Another common compliance failure happens when the sex offender doesn’t update their personal information every 90 days while on probation or under any other type of official supervision, if that’s part of their registration requirements. Even one failure to comply can result in the revocation of your probation, a fine of up to $10,000, and a prison sentence ranging between two to 20 years.

The penalties only get steeper for multiple failures to comply, where fines and prison sentences are comparable to that of first-degree felony penalties in the state of Texas.

  • Bigamy – The Texas Family Code states that you can legally be married to only one person. This does little to deter bigamists from sneaking around the state and entering into new common-law marriages without terminating their existing one, though. This means that in order to enter a new marriage, you’ll have to end the old one first.

Any attempted marriages while still in another legal marriage will make these attempted marriages something called “void marriages.” A void marriage is when neither you nor your spouse have the right to make major health decisions for each other or are able to enjoy death benefits. Since you’re technically still married, all your property will be considered community property in the new marriage, which could make things dicey when trying to terminate the old marriage and start the one.

What about the would-be spouse who got hoodwinked, though? They are known as “putative spouses.” Putative spouses can still recover damages due to the marriage, similar to how a spouse would gain part of your community property in a divorce proceeding. However, putative spouses can only recover damages sustained from the beginning of the void marriage to the discovery of the previous, existing marriage. If you wish to recover any damages beyond this, you’ll need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the process.

Being tough on those who perpetrate sex crimes is in vogue, which only underscores the need for an effective and results-oriented criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III is a judgment-free sex offender criminal defense firm in Houston that is focused on getting the best outcome possible in your criminal case. Get in touch with us to discuss your options over a free consultation today.