Texas Sexual Battery Laws

Related Ads

Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area

searchbox small

Sexual assault (sometimes also called rape, or “sexual battery”) is illegal in Texas, and punished as a felony. The circumstances of the offense determine the level of felony, which in turn determine the penalties that apply to the crime.

When it comes to sexual assault, the law strives to protect strangers, acquaintances, and married people equally. In Texas, as in all states, there is no exception or defense to prosecution for assault or rape that occurs within a marriage (to learn more about marital rape laws in Texas, see Marital Rape in Texas).

Sexual Assault

In Texas, sexual assault occurs when someone compels a victim to engage in sexual penetration against the victim’s will, and also includes circumstances when the victim is mentally incapable of giving consent to sex (such as being in a coma or having passed out from drug or alcohol use), and statutory rape—when the victim is too young to legally be able to give consent.

(Tx. Penal Code § 22.011 & 22.021.)

Penalties

Sexual assault is a felony, and the applicable fines and prison term depend on the circumstances of the crime.

Penalties for sexual assault include a fine of up to $10,000, at least two (and up to life 20) years in prison, or both.

For particularly violent sexual assaults—such as when the victim incurs serious bodily injury, when the defendant intended to kill the victim, or assaults against a child victim—the crime is a first degree felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, at least five (and up to 99) years in prison, or both.

Defenses to a Charge of Sexual Assault

Defendants charged with sexual assault have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants, starting with “Someone else committed this crime.”

A defendant can also claim that the sexual activity was consensual. In a sexual assault case, there can be significant questions about what constitutes consent or what constitutes refusal. This has led to the infamous question of when does “No” mean “No”? Does the word constitute a lack of consent as soon as it is spoken, or must the victim object more vigorously?

However, this defense only applies to conduct between two adults (people 18 or older). Statutory rape laws make minors legally incapable of giving consent to sexual activities. Therefore even if the minor “consented,” the sexual activity was nonetheless illegal and the defendant may be convicted of sexual battery or rape.

There are two exceptions that apply to some statutory rape cases. First, if the defendant was not more than three years older than the victim, and the sexual activity was consensual, the defendant may have a defense to prosecution. The second defense includes consensual sex between married couples when one spouse is younger than 18 years old.

Another possible defense is an insanity plea, in which the defense argues that the accused is mentally ill and did not have the capacity to control his behavior, to form criminal intent or to understand what he was doing or that his actions were unlawful.

See a Lawyer

If you are facing a sexual assault charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. Numerous defenses apply to sexual assault charges, and a lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to your case.

A lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge or a reduction in penalties (such as, for example, probation instead of prison time); and will know how prosecutors and judges typically handle cases like yours.

Help for Sexual Assault and Rape Survivors

If you are a victim of sexual assault or rape, contact Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) for online help and local resources.

Talk to a Defense Lawyer

Charged with a crime? Start here to find a lawyer.
HOW IT WORKS
how it works 1
Briefly tell us about your case
how it works 2
Provide your contact information
how it works 1
Connect with local attorneys
LA-NOLO5:DRU.1.6.3.20141021.28794