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Statutory Rape Laws in Texas

A charge of statutory rape is very serious in the state of Texas, especially since it deals with sex with those who are underage. This crime can occur even when the underage "victim" consented to the sexual encounter. An adult over the age of 18 who engages in certain sexual acts with a person under a certain age can be convicted of very serious sex crimes. A conviction can result in high fines, long prison terms, and registration as a sex offender for the rest of your life.

You deserve the best representation possible to avoid a statutory rape conviction. The Law Office of E. Jason Leach is dedicated to defending the rights of the accused. If you need a strong criminal defense in the Odessa, Texas area, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach is ready to help.

Odessa, Texas Statutory Rape Lawyer

E. Jason Leach focuses exclusively on criminal defense law and has been doing so for over a decade. Since 2005, he has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of those accused of crimes. He is a Texas board-certified expert in criminal defense and believes that all clients are entitled to the most vigorous defense possible.

People accused of a crime have constitutional rights that deserve to be protected. A criminal conviction can place an incredibly heavy burden on your life, but you do not have to simply accept the charges against you. You can fight back and work to avoid the difficulties of a criminal conviction. With the right help at your side, you can move forward confident that your rights are protected.

Statutory Rape in Texas 

Referred to as "sexual assault" in Texas, statutory rape occurs when an adult engages in some type of sexual activity with a child under the age of 17. A child aged 17 is considered to be at the "age of consent," and it is not illegal to engage in that kind of activity with a person aged 17 or older when a person is within a certain number of years in age of that person. However, any person 16 years of age or younger could result in a statutory rape charge in Texas.

Under Texas law, there are three primary statutes that govern the state's "statutory rape" laws:

Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child  - Texas Penal Code Section 22.021

This offense occurs when there is sexual penetration (however slight) of or by a child under the age of 14 (13 and younger) by a person of any age. The offense is a first-degree felony and may carry the following possible penalties:

  • minimum of 5 up to 99 years in prison
  • fine of up to $10,000

Sexual Assault of a Child - Texas Penal Code Section 22.011

This offense occurs when there is sexual penetration of or by a child under the age of 17 or younger by a person who is three or more years older than the victim. When this occurs, the offense is a second-degree felony and is subject to the following possible penalties:

  • minimum of 2 years and up to 20 years in prison
  • fine of up to $10,000

Indecency with a Child  - Texas Penal Code Section 22.11(a)(2)

This offense occurs when an adult engages in sexual contact with a child or touching other than penetration who is 17 or younger and the offender is an adult more than three years older than the victim. This charge is a second-degree felony and is subject to the following penalties:

  • minimum of 2 years and up to 20 years in prison
  • fine of up to $10,000

Defending Your Case

Various defenses may apply to your case. There is no "mistake of age" exception in statutory rape cases. Even in cases where you honestly believed a person was 18 or older, or 17 and within the three year age gap, this is not a defense if you are mistaken about the "victim's" age.

The "Romeo & Juliet Exception"

One defense that may operate to protect you from criminal liability is the Romeo & Juliet Exception, passed into law in 2011. It gets its name from the famous Shakespeare play. The law is designed to prevent serious criminal charges against teenagers who engage in consensual sex and who are close in age.

The law applies to a minor who is between the ages of 14 and 17 and has consensual sex with someone less than three years older than they are themselves. This does not permit anyone to have sex with any person who is under the age of 14 (13 and under) as that child cannot consent to sexual activity, even with a 14-year-old.

For example, a 14-year-old can consent to sex with a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old with an 18-year-old, a 16-year-old with a 19-year-old, and a 17-year-old with a 20-year-old. In such cases, the Romeo & Juliet Exception will apply to prevent statutory rape charges.

Sex Offender Registration

With all of the offenses listed above, a successful conviction will require that you register as a sex offender. Depending on the offense, a conviction may require lifetime registration, reporting requirements, notification requirements, and re-registration requirements. Other offenses may only require your inclusion on the sex offender registry for up to 10 years with the ability to de-register in the future.

The specifics of sex offender registration are best discussed with your experienced attorney, who can help you understand the specific requirements you could face if convicted.

Consult an Experienced Odessa Statutory Rape Lawyer

If you or someone you care about want is charged with statutory rape charge in Odessa, TX or the surrounding areas, you need a knowledgeable, experienced attorney to fight for your constitutional rights.

You have the right to fight back against these charges. The Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is ready to help you defend your case. To set up a free consultation, contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.

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