Any accusation of sexual conduct with a minor must be taken seriously. These allegations can ruin your career, hurt your family, and possibly send you to prison.
If you are accused of having sex with a minor in Houston, call attorney Ned Barnett. As an experienced Houston child sex crimes attorney, he can review the matter, advise you, and hopefully deal with the situation before formal charges are filed. But even if you are charged with having sex with a minor in Harris County, attorney Barnett can fight the case and pursue the best possible result.
Call (713) 222-6767 for a free and confidential consultation about protecting yourself against these allegations.
Texas Law: Sex with a Minor
In Texas, it is illegal for someone 18 or older to have sex with anyone under 17. This is commonly known as statutory rape.
Indecency with a Child or Sexual Assault
The precise charges depend on the specific acts alleged. If they involve sexual contact, but not penetration or intercourse with someone under 17, the charge may be indecency with a child. But if there was force, coercion, or violence, the charge will likely be sexual assault.
Violence isn’t Required
The prosecutor does not have to show that violence, force, or coercion occurred to prove statutory rape, sexual assault, or indecency. It is enough that an adult had sex or sexual contact with a minor. It also doesn’t matter if the act was consensual. Texas law states the age of consent is 17 years old.
Sex with Minor Penalties
The punishments for sexual contact with a minor in Texas are harsh. In addition to fines and potentially life-long prison sentences, you’ll be labeled a sex offender for the rest of your life.
Statutory rape is a second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison. Sexual assault of a child younger than 14 is punishable by 5 to 99 years or life in prison.
Other consequences of being convicted of having sex with a minor include:
- A permanent criminal record
- Requirement to register as a sex offender
- Limitations on where you can live
- Complications obtaining employment
- Loss of professional license or inability to obtain a profession license in the future
- Removal of a visa, permanent resident status, or deportation
- Denial of citizenship application
- Loss of voting rights
- Inability to possess a firearm
- Loss of custody or visitation with your children
Sex with a Minor Defenses
There are two major defenses when someone is charged with having sex with a minor:
- The parties involved were legally married
- The adult was within a 3 year age difference from the minor
The purpose of the law is not to charge teenagers who engage in consensual sex with a crime. For instance, if a 19-year-old has consensual sex with a 16-year-old, this may fall into the exception. However, neither defense applies to forced or coerced sexual intercourse or contact with a minor.
Minors Who Lie About Their Age
Many charges relating to sex with a minor involve apparently consensual experiences. For example, many teens find it exciting to sneak into bars or college parties where they lie about being 21. They may meet someone and engage in sexual contact.
Although the adult may not have known the minor’s age, he or she may still be charged with a sex crime and labeled a sex offender for the rest of his or her life. There is no specific defense for lacking the knowledge of a minor’s age, no matter how reasonable the belief may have been. However, there are ways an attorney can present the facts that help explain the situation.
A Houston Child Sex Crimes Attorney Can Help
If you’ve been charged with sex with a minor, it is important to build a strong defense and deal with accusations as quickly as possible. In many cases, your attorney can investigate and help clear up misunderstandings in a way that doesn’t make things worse.
As a former prosecutor and long-time criminal defense attorney, Ned Barnett has more than 30 years of experience in handling child sex crime cases. He knows what to look for, where mistakes and rushes to judgment happen and will fight to protect you.
Let us explain your options, review the evidence, and put you in the dest possible position to move on quickly and discretely. Contact the Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767.