Texas has some of the nation’s most punitive sex crime laws with mandatory minimums, severe monitoring for released offenders, and expanded child safety zones to restrict an offender’s movements. Since the 1990s, sex offenses have moved from general criminal laws to their own unique breed with relaxed evidentiary requirements, increased penalties (mandatory life sentences for some repeat offenses), longer periods of incarceration, and reduced opportunities for early release on parole.
Commonly Charged Sex Crimes in Texas
Penalties for sex offenses are laid out in the Texas Penal Code. There are four primary categories: indecency with a child (Penal code § 21.11); sexual assault (§ 22.011) [commonly referred to as rape in many states]; aggravated sexual assault (§ 22.021); and possession of child pornography (§ 42.26).
Indecency with a child occurs when a person engages in sexual contact with a child, regardless of gender, when the child is under 17 years of age and is not the spouse of the offender. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently held that a defendant cannot be punished for both contacting and penetrating a victim’s sexual organ with multiple sentences. Indecency with a child can be either a second or three degree felony depending upon the circumstances, meaning the maximum term of imprisonment could be as high as 10 or 20 years…
Sexual assault of a child occurs if the victim is younger than 17 years of age with the assault becoming “aggravated” if the victim is younger than 14 years of age. Sexual assault of a child is a second degree felony while aggravated sexual assault of a child is a first degree felony, meaning a possible life sentence in prison.
Offenses with Mandatory 25-Life
In 2007, the Texas Legislature created two new crimes: continuous sexual abuse of a child (the Jessica Lunsford Act) and “super” aggravated sexual assault.
Continuous sexual abuse of a child involves (two or more acts) of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 over a period of 30 days. This is a first degree felony. § 22.02 requires a minimum penalty of 25 years with no provision for early release.
Super aggravated sexual assault imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for the sexual assault of a child if the victim is younger than 6 or if the victim is younger than 14 and the defendant engages in such violent conduct as to raise the sexual assault of an adult to aggravated sexual assault.
Automatic Life Sentence for Repeat Offenders
An automatic life sentence without parole is imposed on repeat offenders for either offense. There is no possibility of probation or deferred adjudication.
At The Wanner Law Firm we know that you have a lot at stake. That is why we will make every effort to handle your case with confidentiality, urgency, and compassion.
Chris Wanner is not afraid to take on even the most complex or gravest sex crime charges, and he will invest every possible resource into securing the best outcome for your case. Together with Chris Wanner you can avoid crippling consequences and move forward with your life.