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Texas Marital Rape Laws

Published: May 19, 2017 in Sex Crimes

In previous decades, marital rape was not a possibility. Due to traditional viewpoints, most communities and legislators assumed women would submit to their husbands in regard to intercourse. However, America’s cultural values and laws have evolved over the years to recognize that sexual activity must be consensual – otherwise it is unlawful. Now, marital rape is a form of sexual assault between spouses and is illegal across the country.

This is an important law, which protects women in physically and sexually abusive marriages. It provides prosecutors with a way to punish men who take advantage of their wives. However, like all sex crime laws, it can be used with malicious intent. False allegations of marital rape can ruin a husband’s reputation and community standing. It can also greatly affect the outcome of a divorce or custody battle. Anyone facing allegations of marital rape should seek out the help of an experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett to learn more about potential defenses and the consequences of conviction.

Call (713) 222-6767 right away to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation.

Texas Marital Rape Laws

Texas does not have a specific statute in regard to rape perpetrated by one spouse against the other. Instead, Texas eliminated the marital rape exemption that existed until the early 1990s. Now, an individual who is sexually assaulted in Texas can seek to have charges brought against the perpetrator, even if that is his or her spouse. Their legal relationship does not provide the alleged offender with a defense.

A spouse can be charged with rape under Texas Penal Code Section 22.011, which defines sexual assault. Sexual assault is the act of a person intentionally and knowingly:

  • Causing the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person without consent,
  • Causing the penetration of the mouth of another by the person’s sexual organ without consent,
  • Causing the sexual organ of an individual to make contact with or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person without consent.

Sexual assault is usually charged as a second-degree felony in Texas. It is punishable by between 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Spouses can also be charged with aggravated sexual assault. This offense occurs when the perpetrator of a sexual assault allegedly:

  • Causes serious bodily injury or attempts to cause the death of another individual
  • Makes the victim fear bodily injury, kidnapping, or death
  • Threatens to severely injure, kidnap, or kill the victim
  • Uses a deadly weapon
  • Used a date-rape drug
  • Assaults a victim who is younger than 14, older than 65, or disabled

Aggravated sexual assault is first-degree felony in Texas, punishable by 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

When Marriage May be a Defense

There is a limited situation in which the marriage between an alleged offender and victim is a defense to the crime of statutory rape. Under Texas law, it is illegal for an adult to have sexual contact with a minor under 17 when they are more than 3 years apart in age. However, if the sexual contact between the adult and the minor was consensual and they were married, then the older spouse has an affirmative defense against statutory rape charges. However, if the sexual contact was not consensual, then marriage is not a defense.

Contact a Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer for Help

Accusations of marital rape must be taken seriously, particularly if they arise during a divorce or custody battle. Anyone accused of raping their spouse should immediately contact an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 for free and confidential consultation.

Attorney Ned Barnett has more than 30 years of experience in the legal field, including decades of building a successful criminal defense practice. He understands the gravity of these accusations and strives to prove his client’s innocence.