Updated on August 23, 2022
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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. Instead, 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 following claims:
Your actions were protected under the “Romeo and Juliet” exception, which protects teenage couples. Learn more by reading “Texas Romeo and Juliet Law: Not Quite What the Bard Intended.”
The prosecutor mistook your identity.
The alleged conduct did not occur.
The minor is your spouse.
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, even if the minor caused you to believe they were older, it is not a valid defense for charges involving sex crimes with a minor. Instead, you should collaborate with a Round Rock criminal defense attorney to identify a strong plan of defense for your case. Contact us online to schedule a FREE consultation.
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 touching the breasts, anus, or genitals of someone 17 or younger or causing a minor to engage in any form of sexual contact 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 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 involve 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 the following penalties:
Up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 if you are convicted of indecency with a child by contact or sexual assault of a child (both second-degree felonies)
Up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if you are convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child (a first-degree felony)
Anyone convicted of statutory rape in Texas must also 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) 781-4222 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.