Consent is perhaps one of the most tricky, multi-faceted, and confusing aspects of criminal law. But how consent is defined can make all the difference in the world if you are being charged with sexual assault. Because the penalties for sexual assault convictions in Texas can escalate to life in prison, top-notch legal assistance is a must when dealing with accusations.
Understanding what is considered consent under Texas law can help you avoid the risk of being charged with sexual assault, and can also help you defend your innocence if you are accused.
What Does Texas Law Say About Consent?
Essentially, consent is an agreement between two individuals to engage in sexual activity. But it’s not always that simple. Because consent isn’t always verbal, this creates a gray area in many instances. A few important points to remember about consent:
- Consent at one time in one instance does not construe consent at all times and in all situations. A person might consent to sex on one occasion, but not another.
- Consent can be withdrawn. A person might initially agree to have sex, but then decide they are not comfortable.
- If a person has said “no,” then consent has been withdrawn.
- Kissing alone or flirting does not imply consent.
- If a person is drunk or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, issues of consent can also get complicated. While it is never okay to have sex with someone who is passed out, things can get complicated when a person is “blacked out” but is still awake and giving consent.
- Pressuring someone to have sex can also be considered a breach of consent.
- Use of “date rape drugs” can increase penalties for sexual assault.
While there are many tragic cases of intentional violation of consent, there are also many cases where the accused mistakenly believe that consent was given. For example, perhaps a person was “blackout drunk” and did give consent, but later doesn’t recall this. In addition to the influence of drugs and alcohol, there is a range of other factors that can cause consent to be questioned. In many cases, this confusion can land a defendant in jail and result in a lifetime of shame and complication. If you’re facing accusations, remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. As a respected sexual assault defense law firm in McAllen, Texas, the Tijerina Law Firm, PC can review your case, help you understand your possible defense options under the law, and fight for your rights!
Texas Law Regarding Sex with Minors
In Texas, the age of consent is 17, according to Legal Match. This means that anyone under the age of 17 is not able to give consent under the definition required for legal sexual conduct. The age of consent is gender-neutral and applies in the same way to both heterosexual and homosexual conduct. Texas does not enforce harsh penalties for individuals who have sex with someone under 17 as long as that person is not more than 3 years older than the minor. However, there is a provision that specifically states that the close-in-age exception does not apply to people who are required to register for life as sex offenders.
If you have sex with someone under 17 years old and are not married to him or her, you might be charged with Sexual Assault of a child, which is a second-degree felony. If you have sex with someone younger than 14 years old then that can be considered Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and is a felony in the first-degree. Punishment for a second-degree felony can range from 2 to 20 years, while punishment for a first-degree felony can range from 5 years to life, according to LegalMatch.
What If You’re Accused of Sexual Assault?
Have you been accused of sexual assault? The resulting consequences of a sexual assault conviction can impact your life in devastating ways. But there’s help available to you! At the Tijerina Law Firm, we work to fight for you. Juan Tijerina is an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of sexual assault law in Texas. He can work to prove your innocence, defend your side of the story, and ultimately have your charges dropped. Sexual assault accusations are becoming more and more normal in our culture. Penalties can be as severe as life in prison. If you’re being accused, don’t risk the lifelong consequences – get legal help you can count on.
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