Being convicted of a sex crime can be devastating. Not only could you end up in prison, but a conviction can also ruin your reputation and relationships. Additionally, the inability to be approved for a mortgage or obtain employment can be stressful.
It’s best to remember that every criminal accusation comes with a presumption of innocence. The most important step you can take after being accused or arrested for a sex crime is to contact an attorney who will do everything in their power to defend you. During this difficult time, The Benken Law Firm can assist you best.
Houston Sex Crimes Defense Attorney, TX
If you have been arrested for any type of sex crime such as child pornography, sexual assault, indecent exposure, or indecency with a child, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer that can help you obtain the best outcome possible for your case. Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm has over 30 years of experience fighting sex crime allegations in Texas courts and he will help you clear your name and prove your innocence.
Call The Benken Law Firm today at (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a time to speak an attorney about your case. Brian Benken proudly represents clients in all communities in Harris County and surrounding counties such a Houston, Greater East End, Lawndale, River Oaks, and many others.
Overview of Sex Crimes in Harris County, TX
- What is a Sex Crime?
- How does Texas Define Consent?
- Texas Sex Offender Registration
- Can Sex Crimes be Expunged?
- Additional Resources
What is a Sex Crime?
There are 11 sex crimes listed under Title 5, Chapter 21 of the Texas Penal Code. In addition to the 11 crimes listed under chapter 21, there are crimes listed throughout the penal code that are considered sex crimes in Texas. Some of the offenses Texas law recognizes as sex crimes include:
- Sexual assault: Texas law defines sexual assault as knowingly and intentionally committing a prohibited sexual act without the consent of the victim. Prohibited sex acts can involve penetrating the mouth, sexual organ or anus of another without their consent as well as causing another’s sexual organ to penetrate or come in contact with the mouth, anus or sexual organ of another.
- Aggravated Sexual assault: This is similar to sexual assault except there are factors that elevate the crime. Factors that could elevate a sexual assault charge to aggravated sexual assault include the victim was younger than 14, elderly or disabled, the defendant caused serious bodily injury, or the crime was committed during an attempted robbery, kidnapping or homicide.
- Indecency with a child: This crime is defined as a person who engages in sexual contact with a child under 17 or causes the child to engage in sexual contact with the intent to gratify or arouse a sexual desire. This crime can be committed by either exposure or contact.
- Online Solicitation of a Minor: Texas law defines this sex crime as a person who is 17 or older who intends to commit a sexual offense over the Internet, e-mail, text message or other electronic message services. These sexual offenses can include communicating in a sexually explicit manner or distributing sexually explicit material to a minor.
- Child Pornography: A person commits this offense if they knowingly or intentionally possess or accesses with intent to view visual material that depicts a child under 18 years old who is engaging in sexual conduct. This can include photos, video, negatives of slides.
- Indecent Exposure: Texas law considered indecent exposure to be the exposing of the anus or genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify a sexual desire, and he or she is reckless about who is present and who will be offended or alarmed by the act.
Most sexual offenses in Texas are considered felonies. If convicted, felony penalties can include multiple years in prison, heavy fines and sexual offender registration. Sentencing for sex crimes vary, so you should consult with a knowledgeable defense attorney for the specifics of your charge.
How does Texas Define Consent?
One of the most complicated issues of a sex crime case involving minors is the legal age of consent. This is considered the age where someone is legally able to consent to sexual activity, and in Texas, that age it 17. If the child is 16 or younger, then they are not legally able to consent
Even if the minor under 17 did consent to the sexual act, the court will not consider it. There are also other factors in a case a prosecutor may use to prove a victim didn’t consent to the sex act. Some of these factors include:
- You used a controlled substance or other chemicals without the victim’s knowledge to affect their power of control
- You knew the victim could not consent because they were physically unable to resist or they were unconscious
- You had the victim agree to participate by using physical force or violence
- You had the victim submit by threating to use violence or physical force
- You knew the victim was unaware of the sexual act taking place
Texas Sex Offender Registration
Depending on the crime, when you are convicted of a sexual offense, you may be required to register as a sex offender. Laws regarding the state’s Sex Offender Registration Program are in chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
The code states that anyone who has a reportable conviction, adjudication or is required to register as a condition of parole, release to mandatory supervision, or community supervision must register or verify registration with local law enforcement in any municipality where they reside within seven days.
Under Texas law, there are three different risk levels that an offender could be required to register as, and they are based on the potential threat they pose to the community. These risk levels include:
- Level One: These offenders pose a low risk to the community and will likely not engage in any criminal sexual conduct;
- Level Two: These offenders pose a moderate danger to the community and might continue to engage in criminal sexual behavior; and
- Level Three: These offenders pose a serious risk to the community and will continue to participate in criminal sexual conduct.
The length of time you are required to register as a sex offender can be for either 10 years or life. Lifetime registration is required for those convicted of sexually violent offenses such as aggravated sexual assault or continuous sexual abuse of a young child.
Can Sex Crimes be Expunged?
If you are convicted of a sex crime, you may wonder if you will ever be able to have the charges removed from your criminal record. Thankfully, yes. It’s rare, and it requires a case to have no plea or conviction.
Section 55.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows expunction of offense from a criminal record if one of the following conditions is met:
- No criminal charges were filed
- Charges were filed but were later dismissed
- The defendant was acquitted
- The defendant was convicted but later proven innocent
- The defendant wasn’t tried and the prosecutor recommended expungement
- The defendant was otherwise granted relief based on actual innocence
- A grand jury did not bill the defendant
A conviction of deferred adjunction for a sex crime cannot be removed from the defendant’s criminal record in Texas. But if the defendant is never convicted, then they can petition the court to expunge the charge and have it removed.
The legal process of getting a sex crime expunged can be complicated. You should speak with a lawyer who can answer your questions about getting such crimes removed from your record.
Additional Resources in Harris County, TX
Sex Offenses | Texas Penal Code– Follow this link to read through the chapter of the Texas Penal Code that deals with sex crimes in Texas. You can learn more about the offenses mentioned on this page as well as other related crimes.
Sex Offender Registration Program | Texas Penal Code– Read through the chapter of the Texas Penal Code that governs how sex offenders register in the state. You can learn about what registered sex offenders are required to do, places they are prohibited to work and where they can’t live.
Texas Association Against Sexual Assault – Visit the official website for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA). The organization is dedicated to eliminating sexual violence in TX. Access the page to learn more of what they do, resources and how to get involved.
Sex Crimes Lawyer, Harris County TX
Being wrongly accused of a sex crime can tarnish your reputation and affect your relationships. The social stigma attached to sexual offenses can also affect your future. The Benken Law Firm knows how frustrating this can be, and we will do everything we can to make sure that your name is cleared and your reputation is preserved.
If you would like to schedule a time to speak with The Benken Law Firm about the specifics of your case, call us at (713) 223 - 4051. Brian Benken is a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in TX that represents clients accused of sex crimes in every community throughout Harris County and surrounding counties such as Houston, Bellaire, Humble, Katy, Galena Park, Baytown, Bunker Hill, West University place and many more.