Any unwanted sexual contact through force could be considered forcible touching. And while forcible touching is not a criminal offense in Texas, the act is usually charged as sexual assault. Proving that forcible touching occurred could be a significant factor in being convicted.
Being accused of a Texas sex crime is scary, but a skilled Houston forcible touching defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Ned Barnett can help prepare a defense strategy.
Forcible Touching, Sexual Assault & Sex Crimes in Texas
Forcible touching under Texas law does not describe a specific criminal charge or sex act. However, when forcible touching is involved, you are more likely to be charged with a sex-related offense.
Consent & Forcible Touching
Forcible touching cannot exist where consent does. Regarding any sexual touching, consent refers to an individual agreeing and wanting to participate of their own free will. Individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, intimidated, coerced, or have a prior relationship with the defendant may not be able to give consent.
Factors that Influence Charges
Some of the factors that could influence whether accusations of forcible touching are valid and warrant criminal sex crime charges include:
- The defendant is accused of exploiting the alleged victim.
- The defendant knows the alleged victim cannot give consent.
- The defendant believes the alleged victim will not understand the nature of the sexual contact.
- The defendant entices a minor child to engage in sexual touching or activity.
- The defendant causes someone else to touch their intimate body parts without consent.
- The defendant sexually abuses alleged victims while working as a healthcare provider.
- The defendant has a position of authority, such as a school principal, healthcare provider, clergy persons, public servant, or daycare provider.
Sex Crimes Related to Forcible Touching
If you are facing allegations of forcible touching in Texas, multiple criminal charges could apply:
Under Texas Penal Code Ch 22.011, sexual assault encompasses various sex crimes. The following instances involving forced touching are considered sexual assault:
- Using or threatening physical violence to control the alleged victim
- Penetration or intercourse without consent
- Sexual contact, intercourse, or penetration with a minor
- Forcible and violent sexual contact, penetration, or intercourse, regardless of consent
- Sexual abuse of someone incapable of giving consent
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Sexual assault can become aggravated sexual assault if specific conditions are met. These include:
- The offense caused serious bodily injury or death to the alleged victim
- The alleged victim is younger than 14
- A deadly weapon was involved in the alleged assault
- The victim feared serious injury or for their life
- The alleged victim is elderly or disabled
- Ketamine, Rohypnol, or other date rape drugs were used to incapacitate the alleged victim
The penalties you face if you are convicted of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault, can be severe. Not only could you be required to register as a sex offender, but you could also face up to 99 years in a Texas state prison and fines as high as $10,000 for an aggravated sexual assault conviction.
Indecency with a Child
Under Texas Penal Code Ch 21.11(c), an individual can be charged with indecency with a child if they engage in any sexual contact with an individual younger than 17. This contact can include forcible touching but also refer to the following:
- Intent to arouse
- Intent to gratify sexual desire
- Any touching of the child’s body parts, including genitals, anus, or breasts
- Any touching through the closing of the child’s body parts, including the anus, generals, or breasts
Indecency with a child by exposure is another crime that involves causing the child to expose any part of their genitals or anus or exposing any part of an adult anus or genitals when a child is present.
Under the law, indecency with a child is generally charged at the third or second-degree level. You could face up to 20 years in a Texas state prison and fines as high as $10,000 if found guilty.
Groping is a criminal offense related to forced touching under Texas Penal Code Ch 22.012. Also commonly referred to as indecent assault, groping includes:
- Attempting to or exposing someone else’s anus, pubic area, or genitals
- Touching someone else’s genitals, breasts, or anus without their consent
- Touching another person with the genitals, breasts, or anus of another person
- Causing someone else to come into contact with feces, saliva, blood, urine, vaginal fluid, or semen
This is considered a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you could expect to spend up to one year in a Texas county jail and pay up to $4,000 in fines. You will also lose your firearm rights. However, you will not be required to register as a sex offender for a groping conviction.
Defenses to Forcible Touching
The type of sex crime allegations you face will determine which defenses will most likely result in a favorable outcome. When you are accused of forcible touching, some of the defenses could include the following:
- Lack of intent
- Lack of sexual gratification
- Consensual sexual contact
- Mistake of fact
- Unlawful arrest
- Improper search and seizure
- Miranda rights violations
- Other constitutional rights violations
- Contact with the minor child was necessary
A Forcible Touching Defense Attorney Can Help
Having a forcible touching defense attorney in Houston working for you could make all the difference in your case. Such allegations could devastate your reputation, and the only way to protect your future is to obtain a not-guilty verdict or get the charges against you dismissed altogether.
Your attorney will be ready to question whether the elements of the events have been met, whether forcible touching happened, and challenge any evidence that they have been illegally obtained.
You can also rely on your defense lawyer to negotiate with the prosecutor to obtain a plea agreement wherever possible. Entering a plea agreement could be the best way to protect your future and avoid the more severe penalties of a sex crime conviction.
Forcible Touching FAQ
We understand how confusing forcible touching and sex crime allegations can be. For this reason, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding forcible touching. If you have additional questions, contact our team to discuss your concerns.
Is Forcible Touching Different Than Sexual Assault ?
Forcible touching in Texas is different from sexual assault in that forcible touching involves the attempt to touch or touch someone with force. Sexual assault involves attempted or actual forcible penetration or intercourse.
Can I Be Charged with Forcible Touching if the Person Consented?
You should not be charged with forcible touching if the other person consented. However, that does not mean the prosecutor will not attempt to bring forward sexual assault or additional related sex crime charges. Your attorney will be ready to challenge the elements of the offense to get the charges against you dismissed.
Can I Be Charged with Forcible Touching if I Didn’t Use Physical Force?
Yes, you can still be charged with forcible touching if you did not use physical force. If the alleged victim in your case could not give their consent due to mental incapacitation or disability, force is not necessary for a forcible touching allegation to apply.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Accused of Forcible Touching in Texas?
If you face forcible touching allegations, you must get a sex crime attorney working for you as soon as possible. Not only do you need to protect yourself against criminal charges, but you must also take steps to protect your reputation and future.
Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett
A dedicated and knowledgeable legal defender is crucial if you have been accused of forcible touching and facing criminal charges. Explore potential defenses and learn more about what happens after a conviction when you hire our team to advocate for your rights.
Contact a Houston forcible touching defense lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett for a free and confidential consultation.