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Houston Child Sexual Assault Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been accused of sexual assault of a minor, you may feel frightened and hopeless. Your fears are not unreasonable. All sexual crimes are subject to severe punishments in Texas, and the potential penalties in many of these cases are significantly harsher than if the victim were an adult. This is especially true in cases involving very young children, when the accused is much older or in a position of power relative to the alleged victim. In many of these cases, the charges may be elevated to “aggravated sexual assault,” which can mean anywhere from five to 99 years in prison. Certain aggravated assault convictions come with a minimum prison sentence of 25 years. In most cases, the convicted offender will also be required to register as a sex offender for a minimum of 10 years.

Why You Need an Experienced Defense Lawyer with Proven Results

Because the accusation of sexual abuse is often made after the passage of a significant amount of time, prosecutors may bring charges based solely on an interview of the child conducted by the police, long after the alleged occurrence. The interviewer may phrase questions in such a way as to elicit a particular response and may even create “memories” of abuse that never occurred. In some cases, another adult with an agenda may have coached the child in how to respond to the interviewer’s questions. A good criminal defense attorney is often able to identify weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, especially when there is little or no credible corroborating evidence to back up the interview.

Circumstances vary significantly. In some cases, the minor is not a child but a teenager who may appear to be older than the statutory age of consent. In other cases, the minor “victim” is a romantic partner who is only slightly younger than the accused, possibly another high school student. Sexual contact with a minor under the age of 17 (“statutory rape”), even if it is consensual, is illegal and subject to prosecution.

Having the right attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Because the stakes are so high, you should hire an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer who understands the law and can present a thoroughly prepared and convincing case to a jury. This is no time to rely on a public defender, who may be responsible for several hundred cases at a given time and, however dedicated, cannot possibly give your defense the time and focus that will be required to beat these serious charges.

Aggravated Sexual Assault on a Minor

Texas law delineates certain types of sexual assault on a minor that are deemed to be more serious and may result in enhanced penalties for aggravated assault. While a charge of non-aggravated sexual assault is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in a Texas prison and a fine of up to $10,000, aggravated sexual assault, which often involves victims who are minors, is a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Below are the types of assault involving minors that may be charged as aggravated assault:

  • Sexual acts with a minor over whom you hold a position of power or are responsible for the minor’s care, for example if you are a teacher, clergy member, healthcare provider, staff member of a residence housing the victim, a law enforcement officer, or another public servant
  • Sexual acts involving an alleged victim under age 14, with additional enhancement if the child was under age six.
  • If a deadly weapon was used or exhibited, and victim was under age 14.
  • If the child was seriously injured during the assault.
  • If you are accused of trying to kill the child.
  • If you drugged the child in order to commit the assault.

Possible Defenses to Accusations of Sexual Assault if the Victim Was a Minor

These are some possible defenses your attorney may raise if you have been accused of sexual assault on a minor. Some are common to any criminal charges levied against a defendant, and others are specific to the charges against you:

  • The police arrested you without probable cause that you committed the crime.
  • The police obtained evidence against you by illegal or unconstitutional means.
  • You were wrongly identified as the person who committed the crime.
  • You were legally married to the child.
  • You can prove that you were not in the vicinity of the victim when the assault took place.
  • DNA evidence shows that you were not present during the commission of the assault.
  • You were either insane or mentally incapacitated.
  • You did not have the intent to commit the crime.
  • The alleged assault consisted of contact made in the course of providing medical care for a child, provided that there was no contact or penetration of the child’s mouth, anus, or sexual organ by your mouth, anus, or sexual organ.
  • You were not more than three years older than the child, and the child was at least 14 years old and were not prohibited from marrying you when the alleged offense occurred.

Romeo and Juliet Law in Texas

Dating relationships pose a particular problem when it comes to charges of sexual assault of a minor when the victim and the accused are close in age, because it is common for older high school students to date younger high school students who may be under the legal age of consent. In Texas, although you may still be prosecuted for having consensual sex with a minor under age 17 but at least age 15, if you were no more than four years older than the “victim,” you will not have to register as a sexual offender.

Get the Legal Help You Need Now

If you have been accused of sexual assault involving a minor, the possibility of the loss of your freedom and damage to your reputation and future is daunting. With the help of the seasoned attorneys at Houston’s top-rated Mary E. Conn Law, you may be able to achieve an outcome that will spare you the most severe penalties.

Mary E. Conn brings more than 30 years of successfully representing people who have been accused of the most serious crimes and has earned the highest possible ratings from Martindale-Hubbell and AVVO. With stakes this high, you can’t afford to accept any less.

For the quality legal representation that could potentially spare you the devastation to your life that comes with a conviction for a serious sexual offense, call Mary E. Conn Law today. The first consultation is free, and affordable payment plans are available.