Definition of "Age of Consent"
The "age of consent" refers to the age that an individual is considered mature enough to consent to sex with an adult. This age of consent ranges from 16 to 18 from state to state, but is generally the age of 18 years old.
In the State of Texas, the age of consent is 17 years old. Why does this matter? Because the crime of statutory rape refers to an adult having consensual sex with someone who is not legally old enough to provide consent.
If you are accused of statutory rape or any other sex crime in Texas, it’s important to understand that you’re facing extremely serious consequences, including registration as a sex offender. (How Long a Conviction Will Keep You on the Texas Sex Offender registry)
In Texas, statutory rape is covered by Section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code, which is Indecency with a Child. This section relays that an adult who does any of the following with a child under the age of consent (younger than 17) has committed a sexual offense:
- Engages in sexual contact
- Causes the child to engage in sexual contact
- Exposes one’s anus or genitals in the child’s presence with the intention of sexually gratifying anyone
- Causes the child to expose any part of his or her anus or genitals
Romeo and Juliet Laws
Some states have an exemption to the age of consent when it comes to couples who are close in age, and these are commonly called Romeo and Juliet laws.
Fortunately for young couples, Texas does have a close-in-age exemption. As such, it is an affirmative defense in Texas if the accused is a person of the opposite sex, if he or she is not more than three years older than the minor in question, if the sex was consensual in nature, and if the accused was not required to be on the sex offender registry for life.
In order for the sex between the two parties to have been consensual, the older party cannot have used force, threats, or duress to pressure the minor into engaging in sexual activity.
Indecency with a Child
A charge of indecency with a child is a felony of either the second or third degree, depending upon the factual circumstances of the case.
In addition to considerable prison time and hefty fines, being convicted of a sex crime with a minor has overarching negative consequences that will reverberate far into your future. A third-degree felony conviction comes with 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 while a second-degree conviction earns 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Charged with Statutory Rape in TX? Contact a Criminal Attorney Today
Charges of indecency with a minor are extremely serious charges with extremely serious consequences. If you have been so charged with statutory rape or any other sex crime with a person under the age of consent, the matter is far too important to leave to chance.
Criminal attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is committed to ensuring that your rights are protected and that you obtain your case’s best possible resolution. We are here to help, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 for more information today.