Sex Crime Laws in Texas

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 What Are the Sex Crime Laws in Texas?

Texas has stringent laws regarding sex crimes, which encompass a variety of illegal activities, including the following.

Child Pornography

In Texas, child pornography offenses encompass possessing, distributing, or creating sexually explicit materials involving a minor under 18 years of age. Possession charges can be levied if someone knowingly or intentionally possesses or accesses such material with intent to view.

Distribution involves sharing these materials, and creation includes engaging minors in sexually explicit conduct for visual depiction. Convictions may lead to imprisonment, significant fines, and registration as a sex offender.

Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure in Texas involves intentionally exposing one’s genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person and being reckless about whether another person present may be offended or alarmed. Conviction may result in a Class B misdemeanor charge, carrying penalties like fines and jail time.

Trafficking of Persons

Trafficking of persons for sexual exploitation refers to recruiting, harboring, transporting, or obtaining a person through force, fraud, or coercion for sexual conduct. It may also include child trafficking, where minors are involved in commercial sexual activities. Penalties can be severe, ranging from state jail felonies to first-degree felonies, depending on the circumstances.

Aggravated Kidnapping

Aggravated kidnapping in Texas involves intentionally or knowingly abducting another person with the intent to violate or abuse them sexually. The severity of the charge depends on factors such as using a deadly weapon, the age of the victim, and the intent behind the kidnapping. Penalties can range from a first-degree felony to capital punishment in the most extreme cases.

Felony Sex Crimes

Felony sex crimes in Texas include a wide range of offenses, such as sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and continuous sexual abuse of a child. The specific charges and penalties depend on factors like the age of the victim, the relationship between the offender and the victim, the use of force or weapons, and previous convictions.

  • Sexual Assault: This involves intentionally and knowingly causing penetration or sexual contact without the victim’s consent. It’s generally classified as a second-degree felony, though it can escalate based on circumstances.
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault: The sexual assault could involve factors such as serious bodily injury, use of a weapon, or drugging the victim. If this is the case, it may be classified as aggravated and could be charged as a first-degree felony.
  • Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child: Someone might commit two or more acts of sexual abuse against a child under 14 within a specified period. If so, they may be charged with this first-degree felony.

The complexity of Texas sex crime laws makes it essential to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if facing any of these charges. Through platforms like LegalMatch, you can find experienced lawyers who can provide specific guidance tailored to your situation.

How Does Sex Offender Registration Work in Texas?

Registration as a sex offender in Texas involves providing detailed personal information to local law enforcement, who maintain a public registry. This information typically includes the offender’s name, address, photo, and details about the offense. It allows the public to be aware of the offender’s presence in their community.

What Happens if I Fail to Register as a Sex Offender?

Failure to register as a sex offender in Texas is itself a criminal offense, which can lead to fines, imprisonment, and additional legal penalties. It might also impact future employment, housing, and other life opportunities.

What Are the Penalties for Sex Crimes in Texas?

Penalties for sex crimes in Texas vary according to the severity and nature of the crime. They can range from fines and probation to long-term imprisonment. Felonies often carry the harshest penalties, including extensive prison sentences.

Child Pornography

  • Possession: State jail felony, with penalties ranging from 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Distribution or Promotion: Third-degree felony, with penalties ranging from 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Indecent Exposure

  • First Offense: Class B misdemeanor, with penalties including up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Subsequent Offenses: This may result in heightened penalties.

Trafficking of Persons

  • Adult Victims: Second-degree felony, with penalties ranging from 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Child Victims: First-degree felony, with penalties ranging from 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Aggravated Kidnapping

  • Typically considered a first-degree felony, with penalties ranging from 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the victim is released in a safe place, the charge may be reduced to a second-degree felony.

Felony Sex Crimes

  • Sexual Assault: Generally a second-degree felony, with penalties ranging from 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault: Typically a first-degree felony, with penalties ranging from 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child: A first-degree felony, with penalties ranging from 25 to 99 years in prison without parole.

Registration as a Sex Offender

Failure to register can lead to a felony conviction, with penalties including prison time and fines, depending on the underlying sex offense.

Can I Get Probation for a Sex Crime?

Probation might be possible for some sex crimes in Texas, depending on the specific circumstances and the offender’s criminal history. An experienced lawyer can advise on the possibility of probation and the associated requirements.

Can I Get My Criminal Records Sealed?

Expungement of criminal records, including sex crime charges, might be possible in Texas under specific circumstances. An expungement lawyer can help assess eligibility and guide you through the process.

Here’s how the process typically works for sex crime charges and what an expungement lawyer can do to assist:

Determine Eligibility

Not all criminal records are eligible for expungement in Texas. Specific criteria must be met, such as:

  • A charge that was dismissed or resulted in an acquittal;
  • A conviction that was subsequently overturned on appeal;
  • Completion of a deferred adjudication program for a class C misdemeanor.

An expungement lawyer can help determine whether the sex crime charges meet the eligibility criteria.

Prepare and File the Petition

If eligible, the next step is to prepare and file a Petition for Expunction with the appropriate court. This document must include detailed information about the arrest, charge, and disposition. An experienced expungement lawyer can ensure that the petition is accurate and complete.

Serve Notice

Notice of the petition must be served on all relevant law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s office, and other entities that have records of the offense. They will have the opportunity to object to the expungement.

Attend a Hearing

A hearing will typically be scheduled, during which a judge will consider the petition. The court will hear from both the petitioner and any parties objecting to the expungement. An expungement lawyer can represent the petitioner at this hearing, presenting evidence and arguments in support of the expungement.

Obtain the Order of Expunction

If the court grants the expungement, an Order of Expunction will be issued. This order directs all agencies that have records of the offense to erase or destroy them.

Confirm Compliance

After obtaining the Order of Expunction, it is essential to ensure that all relevant agencies comply with the order. An expungement lawyer can assist with this follow-up, ensuring that the records are properly removed.

Do I Need an Attorney for Help With My Sex Crime Charges?

Facing sex crime charges in Texas is a serious matter, requiring experienced legal representation. A Texas criminal lawyer who handles sex crimes cases can provide advice, represent you in court, and help you understand your options. LegalMatch offers a convenient platform to find a skilled attorney to assist you with your legal needs.

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