Sexual assault and harassment tales are a constant in the news ever since the breaking news story regarding movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. And if you are reading this, you may be facing accusations of sexual assault yourself. If you have been accused of sexual assault in Texas, there are several potential defenses you can utilize. The three main defenses are:
- Innocence – that the accused did not actually commit the crime. The burden of proof that the defendant committed an assault lies on the prosecutor, so if the defendant can produce reasonable doubt – for example, through a credible alibi or DNA evidence – a jury should acquit.
- Consent – Proving that a plaintiff in a sexual assault case actually consented to the act can be difficult, not to mention controversial. And sometimes, consent can be impossible to prove. But, an attorney can help you find evidence if it exists.
- Insanity or mental incapacity.
What Are the Penalties for Sexual Assault in Texas?
In the state of Texas, sexual assault is usually a second-degree felony. The penalties for second-degree felonies can include two to 20 years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000. The crime can be elevated to a first-degree felony if the victim was a person whom the defendant was prohibited from marrying or was prohibited from living with under the appearance of being married. First-degree felony penalties can include up to 99 years in state prison and/or fines up to $10,000.
There are certain other factors that can elevate sexual assault charges to aggravated sexual assault, also a first-degree felony. For example, sexual assault against a victim 6 years old or younger carries a minimum sentence of 25 years. If the victim is younger than 14 and either a deadly weapon was used, the child was hurt, the accused attempted to kill the child or drugs were used to facilitate a crime, then that person could be penalized for aggravated sexual assault.
As you can see, these penalties are severe. Your best chance of shielding yourself from hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences following accusations of sex crimes is to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney in your area.