Overcoming Accusations: How to Get Texas Statutory Rape Charges Dropped?Published: Jun 02, 2023 in Sex Crimes, Sex Crimes Involving Children
Facing statutory rape charges in Texas can be a harrowing experience. With the potential for jail looming and a forever tarnished reputation attached, it is essential to understand what’s possible and which strategies can result in a favorable resolution, like having the charges dropped.
To help their clients and others protect themselves from damaging allegations, the Houston child sex crime attorneys at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett have provided insight into building a statutory rape defense and the tactics to increase the chances of having charges dismissed. This can help you control your situation and seek the best possible result.
Statutory Rape Charges in Texas
The age of consent in TX is 17. This means that an adult who engages in sexual contact with someone younger than 17 may face charges regardless of their knowledge of the victim’s age.
What’s Considered Statutory Rape in Texas?
Under Texas law, Individuals 16 years old or younger cannot consent to sexual contact. Section 22.011(a)(2)(A) through (E) of the Texas Penal Code outlines the actions that constitute statutory rape. These actions include:
- Penetrating the sexual organ or anus.
- Penetrating the mouth with your sexual organ.
- Causing the sexual organ to contact or penetrate the sexual organ, anus, or mouth of another.
- Causing the anus to encounter the sexual organ, anus, or mouth of someone else.
- Causing the mouth to encounter another person’s sexual organ or anus.
Texas Statutory Rape Penalties & Consequences
Statutory rape, or sexual assault of a child, is a severe offense that can have long-lasting consequences.
In Texas, the penalties for statutory rape depend on the circumstances involved, including the age difference between the accused and the victim. The offenses associated with sexual relations with a minor in TX are typically categorized as:
- If the accused engaged in sexual contact (not penetration) with a child under 17, the charge is considered a second-degree felony.
- Penalties: 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the accused engaged in sexual penetration with a child under the age of 17, the charge is considered a second-degree felony.
- Penalties: 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the accused engaged in sexual penetration with a child under 14 or used violence, threats, or drugs to commit the offense, the charge is considered a first-degree felony.
- Penalties: 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Additionally, a conviction for statutory rape can result in sex offender registration, which carries restrictions on housing, employment, and community involvement.
When Can Statutory Rape Charges Be Dropped
The ramifications of a statutory rape conviction extend beyond immediate concerns like prison. The negative impact will affect your life, career, and reputation for years – possibly forever.
The sooner you take them seriously, the better. And the best way to avoid a statutory rape conviction after charges are filed is usually working to have the charges dropped.
What Does “Dropping the Charges Mean?”
“Dropping the charges” refers to a prosecuting attorney or the state deciding not to pursue a criminal case against the accused. When charges are dropped, the criminal case effectively ends. The accused will not face a trial, conviction, or any legal penalties related to the charges.
Dropping charges does not necessarily mean the accused is innocent. Instead, it signifies that the prosecution does not believe they have a strong enough case to proceed or that it is not in the best interest of justice to continue.
Sometimes charges may be dropped with the possibility of being refiled. In most cases, once charges are dropped, the accused is free from the burden of those specific criminal allegations.
This decision can be made for various reasons, but getting statutory rape charges dropped usually represents the most direct way to resolve things in your favor.
The Reasons Statutory Rape Gets Dropped
There are several grounds upon which statutory rape charges may be dismissed or withdrawn by the prosecution. These reasons can include:
- False Accusations: If there is evidence that the accuser has a history of dishonesty, false police complaints, or threatening lawsuits for financial gain, their credibility may be questioned. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If reasonable doubt can be established, the case may be withdrawn.
- Witness Testimony: If there were witnesses present who could refute the accuser’s version of events, their statements could lead to charges being withdrawn.
- Video Evidence: Security or smartphone footage capturing the parties’ interaction may help exonerate the accused.
- Alibi: If the accused can provide an alibi supported by witnesses or other evidence proving they were elsewhere during the alleged crime, the charges may be dismissed or withdrawn.
- Unreliable DNA: If the accused’s defense can demonstrate that DNA tests were improperly conducted, the results are untrustworthy, or the police lab made a mistake, the charges may be dropped.
- Unlawfully Obtained Evidence: Evidence obtained in violation of the accused’s constitutional rights may be deemed inadmissible. That includes evidence obtained without a proper search warrant or statements made without appropriate Miranda warnings.
- Plea Agreement: A strong defense may lead to charges being withdrawn or dismissed. Alternatively, the prosecution may offer a plea agreement, allowing the accused to plead guilty to a lesser charge and accept a reduced sentence.
A Lawyer Helps Get Charges Dropped
If you have been accused of statutory rape in Texas, it is crucial to enlist the help of an experienced attorney who can fight against false claims and misunderstandings. A lawyer can play a vital role in helping their client get statutory rape charges dropped or reduced. Some common ways a lawyer can help include:
- Thorough investigation: A lawyer will comprehensively investigate the allegations, gathering all relevant evidence and identifying any inconsistencies in the accuser’s story. They will also search for witnesses who can provide testimony that supports the defendant’s case.
- Challenging credibility: A lawyer can scrutinize the accuser’s credibility. Your lawyer can present proof of their past dishonesty, false police complaints, or a history of making threats for financial gain. Establishing reasonable doubt about the accuser’s trustworthiness can lead to charges being dropped.
- Presenting an alibi: If you have an alibi for the time of the alleged crime, a lawyer can help gather supporting evidence, such as witness statements, surveillance footage, or documentation that places the defendant elsewhere.
- Contesting DNA evidence: A lawyer can challenge DNA evidence by questioning the testing procedures, lab results, or chain of custody. Demonstrating that the DNA evidence is unreliable or inaccurate may lead to charges being dropped.
- Suppressing unlawfully obtained evidence: A skilled lawyer can argue that specific evidence violated the defendant’s constitutional rights, such as through an illegal search or interrogation without proper Miranda warnings. If the court agrees, this evidence may be deemed inadmissible, weakening the prosecution’s case.
- Negotiating a plea: If the evidence against the defendant is strong, a lawyer may negotiate a plea with the prosecution. This can involve the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge, resulting in a reduced sentence, an alternative to time in custody, or having some charges dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on other charges.
- Demonstrating insufficient evidence: A lawyer can argue that the prosecution’s evidence is insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the court agrees, the charges may be dropped or dismissed.
- Filing motions for dismissal: A lawyer can file various pre-trial motions requesting the dismissal of charges based on legal or procedural grounds, such as violating your right to a speedy trial or a lack of jurisdiction.
By employing these strategies and others, defense attorneys can provide a robust defense and increases the chances of seeing the charges dropped or penalties reduced.
Texas Statutory Rape FAQs
Is Ignorance of the Victim’s Age Defense?
No, in Texas, claiming that you did not know the victim’s age or that they misrepresented their age is not a valid defense for statutory rape charges.
What’s the Burden of Proof in a Statutory Rape Case?
The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, who must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If a lawyer can create enough doubt about the allegations or the evidence, the charges may be dropped or dismissed.
Does Getting Charges Dropped Affect Your Record?
If charges are dropped, the arrest may still appear on your criminal record, but there will be no conviction. In some cases, you may be able to petition for an expungement to remove the arrest from your record.
Can a Victim’s Parents Drop Statutory Rape Charges?
In Texas, parents don’t “press” statutory rape charges but can report the alleged offense to the police for investigation. The prosecutor will then decide whether to pursue charges based on the evidence. Parents can express their wish not to pursue charges, but it’s left to the prosecutor.
A prosecution may proceed regardless of the parents’ or alleged victim’s wishes. Each case is unique, and the outcome depends on various factors, including the allegations’ severity, age difference, and collected evidence.
How To Increase the Odds of Getting Charges Dropped?
Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial for increasing your chances of getting charges dropped. The common reasons statutory rape charges get dropped include insufficient evidence, unreliable witnesses, procedural errors, or if the prosecution believes it is not in the best interest of justice to continue. A defense attorney can help build a strong defense, challenge evidence, and negotiate on your behalf.
Accused of Statutory Rape? Call a Lawyer
The Law Offices of Ned Barnett can fight back against false claims and misunderstandings. This can result in your case being dismissed, withdrawn, or a favorable plea agreement to reduce the impact on your life.