If you have found yourself in a situation where you thought that you were engaging in intimate acts with a consenting adult, only to find out that they were actually a minor, your future could be at risk. According to the statutory rape laws in Texas, it is illegal to engage in sexual acts with a person under the age of 17 under any circumstances—even if that person was a willing participant. So what happens if that person, as a minor, lied about their age? Is it still considered statutory rape under the law?
Unfortunately, yes. Although you may have been unaware of the fact that you were engaging in sexual acts with a minor, statutory rape is a "strict liability crime" in the state of Texas. This means that your intentions will be irrelevant to your defense. The prosecution does not need to prove that you intended to sleep with a minor – only that you did. For this reason, you shouldn't delay in contacting a skilled criminal attorney in Fort Worth if you have been charged with a statutory rape offense.
Age Makes a Difference in Statutory Rape Cases
Under Texas Penal Code § 22.011, statutory rape is treated as either sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault or indecency with a child—depending on the respective ages of the victim and offender. For example, you would face lesser penalties if the victim was at least 14 years old. The crime of sexual assault involves sexual penetration between a minor who is 17 or younger and a person who is at least three years older than the victim. This is a second degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.
If the victim was younger than 14, however, you would face charges for aggravated sexual assault—regardless of how old you were at the time. This offense is charged as a first degree felony in Texas, which is punishable by a maximum of 99 years in state prison. Even if the sexual contact between you and a minor (under the age of 17) only included touching, you could still be charged with the crime of indecency with a child. This is also a second degree felony, which could land you in state prison for up to two decades.
If you are convicted, you could also be asked to register as a sex offender.
Are there any exceptions to the statutory rape law?
One thing that would preclude you from being charged with statutory rape in the state is if you and the other party were married. This "marital exception" allows married couples to engage in consensual sex even if one spouse is a minor and the other is an adult. However, this exception does not apply to non-consensual sex acts.
Similarly, Texas law also recognizes a "Romeo and Juliet" exception. If two teenagers engage in consensual intercourse, for example, one could not be prosecuted for statutory rape. As long as the minor is at least 14, 15, 16 or 17 and their partner is no more than three years older, the Romeo and Juliet exception would apply.
Let A. Oliver Hassibi Fight to Protect Your Rights
If you or someone you love has been charged with sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault or indecency with a minor, you should waste no time in reaching out to the Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of A. Oliver Hassibi. With more than a decade of legal experience and an impressive track record of case victories, our firm has the know-how you need to successfully fight your sex crime charges.
Don't wait until it's too late – call today to schedule a free consultation!