The very nature of sex crimes often makes them the subject of intense prosecutorial, judicial, and social scrutiny. These crimes often carry heightened emotional charges for everyone involved, and as such, they receive special attention from the state and the media. If you are being suspected of or charged with a sex crime, the stakes are high. If convicted, you may be facing large fines, long prison sentences, immense stress, loss of employment, and a potentially permanent blow to your legal and social reputation. Even individuals that are eventually acquitted of charges often face immense mental, financial, and social challenges. These charges are in every sense of the word life altering.
What are sex crimes?
Sex crimes are not static, easily definable concepts. Public perception and laws are constantly changing, and factors that may or may not determine if an act is a sex crime are largely jurisdiction dependent. The legal understanding of sex crimes can be very complex; concepts such as consent may often be disputed, or even altogether irrelevant such as in cases that involve minor ‘sexting’. It is important to get an attorney’s clarification and advice to understand what specific crime you may be charged with, as offenses have the potential to be enhanced, reduced, or even dismissed entirely depending on your specific circumstances.
Generally, sex crimes revolve around actions relating to pornography, sexual misconduct, prostitution, or sexual assault.
Some common sex crimes include:
- Child sex offenses (continuous sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, statutory rape, sex trafficking, child prostitution, sexual performance by a child, sexting, etc.…)
- Online solicitation of a minor
- Possession and/or distribution of child pornography
- Indecency with a child by contact or exposure
- Public lewdness
- Indecent exposure
- Improper student-teacher relationship
- Invasive visual recording
- Unlawful disclosure and promotion of intimate visual material
- Promotion of prostitution
- Sexual assault
What are the consequences of a sex crime conviction?
Punishments may vary depending on the specific circumstances of your case, the type of offense you’re being charged with, and the entity that is prosecuting your case.
In Texas, most sex crimes are 1st, 2nd, or state jail felonies. Aggravating factors and prior offenses may play a factor in determining what type of felony you may be charged with, or if your charge will be enhanced. Generally, however, punishments for Texas felonies may include fines as high as $10,000 and prison time of up life in prison.
Some crimes, such as crimes committed by minors, may receive more leniency, and can be charged as misdemeanors (i.e. sexting).
Additionally, some crimes such as rape or aggravated sexual assault may be handled at the federal level. Depending on prior offenses and the particulars of your case, punishments may be even more severe than state penalties.
In most cases, individuals convicted of a Texas sex crime will be required to register as a sex offender.
Registering as a sex offender:
In Texas, courts will usually require that convicted individuals register with the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program. Failing to register is an additional felony under state law.
During this process, individuals will be required to give law enforcement information such as their:
- Date of birth
- Home Address
- Type of offense committed
- Age of victim
- Sentence received
- Employment information
- Online information tied to the offender such as aliases
Adult offenders may be required to stay on the Texas State Offender Registration Program (TSORP) list for life, while juvenile offenders may be required to remain on the list for up to 10 years. These requirements, however, may vary depending on the particulars of your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to argue for a more favorable outcome in this regard. Additionally, individuals may be able to go through a process known as ‘expungement’.
Every individual is entitled to a defense.
Sex crime allegations are damaging and stressful for everyone involved. These crimes receive special media and community attention and will almost always involve sensitive and emotionally charged proceedings. Because of this, the principle of presumptive innocence may be unfortunately forgotten. You need a criminal defense attorney that will be willing to fight for your rights and reputation; Every individual is entitled to a defense.
A false allegation can be absolutely devastating to your mental well-being. Additionally, prosecutors and police can and will be over-zealous when pursuing your case, even at the expense of your constitutional rights. A talented criminal defense attorney will be able to fight unwarranted and unconstitutional transgressions by dismissing evidence, preserving issues for appeal, reducing charges, and even getting the case dismissed.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a sex crime in the state of Texas, do not wait to contact a veteran criminal defense attorney. Time is not a luxury in this area. The state takes these charges very seriously and will be building a strong case against you. Allow yourself to be just as prepared. Contact a criminal defense attorney today to begin building your strategic defense.