Almost everyone has lied about their age at least once in their life. Older adults tend to knock off a few years to seem younger, while adolescents lie that they are older than they actually are.
Nowadays, many teenagers do not look their age, which may create problems for people who engage in sexual intercourse with someone thinking that they are older than 18.
However, if you have sex with a person younger than 17, you may face criminal charges for what is known as “statutory rape.” But can you be convicted of statutory rape in Texas if you did not know the accuser’s age?
If the alleged victim of statutory rape lied about their age or you did not know their age, it is critical to speak with a Round Rock criminal attorney to determine the best defense strategy in your case.
Can I Defend Myself if I Didn’t Know the Person’s Age?
Can you still be convicted of statutory rape if you did not know the alleged victim’s age at the time of engaging in sexual intercourse? While many people believe that they can avoid a conviction for a sex crime with a minor by claiming that they were unaware of the person’s age, a mistaken belief as to age may not be a valid defense.
However, there are many other defenses to help you avoid a conviction for sexual assault with a child and other sex crimes with minors. Schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney to discuss possible defense strategies.
Texas Penal Code § 22.011 specifically states that a person can be convicted of sexual assault with a child “regardless of whether the person knows the age of the child at the time of the offense.”
What Are the Defenses to Statutory Rape in Texas?
Many states define having sexual intercourse with a minor as “statutory rape.” Texas criminal law, however, does not have a specific section for statutory rape.
You can be convicted of sexual assault with a child for having intercourse and performing other sexual acts with a person below the age of 17.
Valid defenses that may be available in your case to defend against statutory rape in Texas include:
The “Romeo and Juliet” exception. The defendant is no more than three years older than the alleged victim at the time of the sexual intercourse or another sexual act. Thus, if you are over 18 but the person is not more than three years younger than you, you will not be convicted of sexual assault with a child in Texas.
Mistaken identity. Someone else committed the crime.
The alleged conduct did not occur. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that statutory rape has occurred.
Marriage. The minor is the spouse of the defendant accused of statutory rape.
What if the Alleged Victim Lied to Me or Showed a Fake ID?
Nowadays, it is not uncommon for adolescents aged 14, 15, and 16 to look like adults. That’s why it can be very easy to believe that a person is an adult without realizing that you are having sex with a minor under the age of consent.
As mentioned earlier, a “mistake of age” is not a valid defense in Texas. But what if the minor you had sex with showed a fake ID or lied about their age?
Contrary to popular belief, those are not valid defenses to charges involving sex crimes with a minor.
What Are Sex Crimes with a Minor in Texas?
While Texas does not have a specific section for statutory rape, the state’s Penal Code recognizes three types of sex crimes with a minor:
Indecency with a child by contact. This charge involves causing a minor to engage in any form of sexual contact or touching the breasts, anus, or genitals of someone 17 or younger with the intent to arouse sexual desire. You can be charged with indecency with a child by contact if sexual contact occurs over or under the clothing. As long as sexual contact does not involve sexual penetration, the defendant is charged with indecency with a child by contact rather than sexual assault.
Sexual assault of a child. You could be charged with sexual assault of a child in Texas if you engaged in any sexual activity with a minor under the age of 17. Sexual activity may involve the penetration of the anus, sexual organ, or mouth.
Aggravated sexual assault of a child. You can face the aggravated sexual assault of a child charges if you have sex with a minor under the age of 14, cause injury or death to the victim, use drugs to incapacitate the victim, threaten harm, or there is an additional perpetrator present at the time of the offense.
What Are the Penalties for Statutory Rape in Texas?
The penalties for sex crimes with minors in Texas vary from one case to another, depending on the victim’s age and the circumstances of the offense. Penalties for statutory rape include:
Indecency with a child by contact and sexual assault of a child (both second-degree felonies): Up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Aggravated sexual assault of a child (first-degree felony): Up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Anyone convicted of statutory rape in Texas must register as a sex offender with a local law enforcement authority. Sex offender registration can last for 10 years or more, depending on the type and severity of the sex crime.
Consult with a Round Rock Criminal Attorney Today
Do not hesitate to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with statutory rape or any other sex crime involving minors. Given the severe and long-term consequences of a sex crime conviction in Texas, you cannot take chances by trying to represent yourself.At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our Round Rock criminal attorney will review your particular situation to determine the best defense strategy in your case. Call 254-501-4040 to schedule a consultation today.