Defenses to Sex Crime Charges
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In order to convict you of a crime, the prosecution must establish through evidence that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, when you are charged with a sex crime, people may make assumptions about your guilt simply because of the nature of the crime and despite the legal presumption that you are innocent unless proven guilty.
Police officers, prosecutors, and judges all take a strict approach when dealing with individuals accused of a sex crime. These are serious crimes in Texas with harsh punishments if you’re convicted, that may include:
- A lengthy jail or prison sentence
- Costly fines and court fees
- A requirement to register as a sex offender
- Limitations on where you can live and work
- A permanent criminal record that may affect your future employment or career
- Effects on professional licenses, such as those for working in law, medicine, nursing, teaching, pharmacy, or other licensed professions
- Effects on your custody or visitation rights for your children
- Effects on your immigration status, including loss of your visa or work permit, denial of citizenship, and deportation
Your situation may seem hopeless, but there may be defenses that apply to the circumstances of your case. If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, it is important to contact an experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer who can help you determine the best defense strategy for your case and fight aggressively to protect your rights, your reputation, and your future. Call us today so we can start a strong defense on your behalf at (713) 222-6767.
In Texas, sexual assault is defined in Texas Penal Code Section 22.011. Section 22.011(a)(1) deals with sexual assault among adults, which is any non-consensual sexual contact against another individual involving penetration.
Section 22.011(b) provides a number of ways the prosecution can prove lack of consent and this is generally the primary issue in sexual assault cases. Lack of consent encompasses much more than the threat or use of physical force and the fact that there is no physical evidence to support an accusation of sexual assault does not prevent prosecution.
It is not uncommon for sexual assault cases to come down to the victim’s word against the accused, as there are rarely eyewitnesses to corroborate the account of the incident. An experienced sex crimes defense attorney can help you defend against sexual assault charges by presenting evidence to show the presence of consent.
Under section 22.011(a)(2), sex involving a person under the age of 17 is classified as statutory rape. By law, a person under the age of 17 cannot consent to sex. Thus, consent cannot be used as a defense to statutory rape and the law does not require the adult to have knowledge that the person is under the age of 17.
However, Texas does have what is referred to as “Romeo and Juliet” laws to protect teenagers who are close in age from being prosecuted for engaging in consensual sex. Under Section 22.011(e)(2) it is an affirmative defense to statutory rape if the accused is not more than three years older than the victim and the victim was at least 14 years old at the time of the offense.
This is a situation in which the alleged victim is saying that a crime occurred while the accused is saying that a crime did not occur. The mere accusation of a sex crime can be devastating to one’s reputation even when those allegations are later proven to be false. There may be situations in which a child has been coerced or coached to accuse someone of a sex crime.
False allegations could also arise due to error by the person interviewing the alleged victim, which is of particular concern in cases involving children. For example, an adult could misinterpret a child’s description of an interaction or ask a child leading questions without meaning to do so. In these situations, an experienced Houston sex crimes defense attorney can assess the credibility of the child’s testimony or identify biased interviews.
There may also be situations in which an adult is motivated by anger to make false accusations of a sex crime, such as in the context of a divorce or custody dispute. Regardless of how the false allegations arise, they should be taken seriously and the worst thing to do is assume that they will go away on their own.
It is essential that you consult with an experienced Houston sex crimes defense attorney as soon as you learn of false allegations. An attorney can investigate the false allegations and prepare the strongest possible defense for your case. (Learn more about what to do if falsely accused of rape.)
Factual innocence means just what it implies — you’re innocent of the crime. For sex crimes cases, DNA evidence is most commonly used to prove factual innocence. It is possible that your case may be thrown out if it can be shown that the DNA evidence found at the scene or on the victim does not match the DNA of the accused.
A factual innocence defense can be presented at any stage in the criminal proceedings. Most recently, DNA evidence has been used to exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted. Defendants can appeal through writs of habeas corpus once factual innocence has been proven.
Mistaken identity is a form of factual innocence in which the wrong person is accused of a crime. Proving mistaken identity depends largely on the way in which the accused was initially identified and disputing DNA evidence is more difficult than disputing eyewitness identification or security footage.
Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett
When it comes to sex crimes, even the mere accusation can have lasting negative consequences on your reputation and career. If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime, it is important that you contact an experienced Houston sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Ned Barnett has over 25 years of experience defending clients against all types of sex crime accusations and he will fight to help you get the best possible outcome in your case.
Ned Barnett is a skilled criminal defense lawyer with nearly 30 years of practical legal experience in the Houston area that includes trying criminal cases as a state and federal prosecutor, as well as more than two decades as a Houston sexual assault lawyer. He uses his prior experience as a federal and state prosecutor and understanding of the prosecutor’s perspective to aggressively fight on behalf of each person he represents.
Barnett understands how devastating a criminal charge can be for the person accused and is committed to providing compassionate, one-on-one service. Learn more about the steps that can be taken to challenge sex crime allegations or charges by contacting the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at (713) 222-6767.