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Know the Law: What’s The Age of Consent in Texas?

Published: Feb 21, 2020 in Child Sex Crimes, Sex Crimes, Sex Crimes Involving Children

Every state, including Texas, has an age when an individual can legally consent to sex. Before this, a minor cannot lawfully consent to sexual intercourse or other actions.

This can put adolescents and young adults at odds with the law. It can even result in severe statutory rape charges, despite the activity being consensual.

If you are accused of having sex with someone younger than the age of consent, contact a Houston sex crimes lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett right away.

Statutory rape is serious, so take it just as seriously. Convictions can mean jail and sex offender registration. We are here to help you avoid this at all costs.

Call (713) 222-6767. Initial consults are free, confidential, and we’ll review all your options.

The Age of Consent in Texas

The age of consent in Texas is 17. This means any individual 17 years or older can legally agree to have sex or participate in sexual activities. Therefore, any minor 16 or younger cannot consent to sex with adults.

Why is There an Age of Consent

The age of consent law protects minors from older adult’s influence, manipulation, and abuse. By dictating a legal age of consent, prosecutors have a way to punish adults who take advantage of minors.

Statutory Rape in Texas

In Texas, statutory rape occurs when an adult engages in sexual activity with someone 16 years or younger, even if that activity was consensual. However, statutory rape is not itself a crime. If accused of sexual conduct with a minor, you could be charged with:

  • Sexual assault of a child – An act of penetration or contact between the mouth and sexual organs.
  • Aggravated sexual assault of a child – Penetration or contact between the mouth and sexual organs, with other aggravating factors involved. These can include the minor being younger than 14 or if the offense resulted in serious bodily injury.
  • Super aggravated sexual assault of a child – Penetration or sexual contact with a minor under 6, or under 14 and the offender attempted to kill the child or cause serious bodily injury.
  • Indecency with a Child – Sexual contact with a child.

Convictions for any of these charges will result in a felony on your criminal record. As a result, you may spend years, decades, or life in prison.

Once released you must register as a sex offender in texas. How long you have to register will depend on the facts involved with your case.

The Romeo and Juliet Defense

At first glance, the Texas age of consent law could prosecute teenagers who engage in sex with each other. To correct this, there is an exception, known as the Romeo and Juliet defense.

Under Texas law, it is not statutory rape if the two individuals are married at the time or if they are within three years of each other, so long as they are both over 14. For instance, this protects a 19-year-old who has intercourse with a 16-year-old. However, it does not protect a 16-year-old who has intercourse with a 13-year-old.

Mistake of Age is Not a Defense

In terms of statutory rape, you cannot legally claim that you believed the other person was older.

It does not matter if the adolescent lied about being 18-years-old or even had a fake ID. You also cannot claim that they appeared older because they were in a bar, had a job, or attended college.

If there is evidence that you had sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with a 16-year-old or younger minor when you were more than three years older, then you may be charged with statutory rape.

Contact a Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer for Help

If you have been accused of statutory rape, do not try to explain the situation. Instead, contact a proven sexual assault defense attorney from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett immediately.

By calling (713) 222-6767 or using our online form, we can schedule a free initial consultation where an attorney can get to know you, your situation, and advise you on the next best steps.

Initial consults are free, confidential, and we’ll walk you through how you may be able to avoid a conviction.