The Average Sentences for Texas Sex Crimes & How to Avoid ConvictionPublished: May 19, 2023 in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes, Sex Crimes Involving Children
Even the whisper of a sexual assault accusation can have devastating effects. But when formal Texas sex crime charges are filed, things get dire.
Sex crimes are some of the most harshly punished offenses in Texas. While the average sentence for a sex crime conviction depends on factors like its severity, the offender’s criminal history, and other aggravating or mitigating circumstances, they carry stark consequences that can affect your life forever.
With the possibility of prison and sex offender registration looming, it’s vital to contact an experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer if you’re accused of any sexual offense because there are ways to improve your situation, defend yourself, and hopefully avoid conviction. But you need to act fast.
What Are the Average Sentences for Texas Sex Crimes?
Under the Texas Penal Code, sex crimes include a broad range of offenses. Predominantly, the assigned penalty for a sexual offense is dictated by whether it is classified as a misdemeanor or felony based on the specific elements of the crime. Once this is established, the presence of any aggravating or mitigating factors and a person’s prior criminal record will be considered.
For instance, sexual assault is a second-degree felony in Texas, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, suppose the offense involves certain aggravating factors, like using a deadly weapon, the victim’s age, or the offender’s relationship with the victim. In that case, the crime can be upgraded to a first-degree felony, carrying up to life in prison.
On the other hand, indecent exposure is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail. But, if the offender has a prior conviction for indecent exposure, it can be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor with a punishment of up to one year in jail.
Sex Crimes in Texas
- Sexual Assault – Depending on your alleged actions and the victim’s age, you may be charged with a first or second-degree felony.
- Prostitution & Solicitation – These can be charged as class A or B misdemeanors or as third, second, first-degree, or state jail felonies.
- Indecent Exposure & Public Lewdness – Indecent exposure is a class B misdemeanor, while public lewdness is a class A misdemeanor.
- Revenge Porn – Once classified as a class A misdemeanor, it is now a state jail felony.
- Child Pornography – If you have prior child porn convictions, you’ll face either a second or first-degree felony. But, if it is your first offense, it’s a third-degree felony.
Texas Sex Crime Sentencing
The average sentence you can expect for a sex crime conviction in Texas depends on:
- The Nature & Severity of the Offense – Crimes involving violence or coercion, such as sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault, usually carry more severe penalties than non-violent offenses, such as indecent exposure or sexual misconduct.
- The Age and/or Disposition of the Victim– Sex offenses involving minors, the elderly, or vulnerable individuals typically carry more severe penalties than those involving adults.
- Your Criminal Record – Defendants with prior convictions for sex crimes or other violent offenses are likely to receive more severe sentences than first-time offenders.
- Any Aggravating or Mitigating Factors – The presence of mitigating or aggravating factors can also influence the sentence for a sex crime in Texas. Mitigating factors, such as your age or mental health, may lead to a more lenient sentence, while aggravating factors, such as the use of a weapon or the presence of multiple victims, may lead to more severe punishment.
Felony Sex Crime Sentences
If convicted of a felony sex crime in Texas, you face mandatory time behind bars:
- First-degree felony – Between five and 99 years or life in prison, fines reaching $10,000
- Second-degree felony – Two to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000
- Third-degree felony – Two to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- State jail felony – 180 days to two years in state jail and fines up to $10,000
Misdemeanor Sex Crime Sentences
If convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime, you face:
- Class C misdemeanor – A fine of up to $500
- Class B misdemeanor – Up to 180 days in jail and/or fines reaching $2,000
- Class A misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000
Sex Offender Registration
Even after serving a jail or prison sentence for a sex offense, you may also be required to register as a sex offender. If convicted of certain sex crimes in Texas, you must:
- Complete a registration form.
- Describe your offense and the age of the victim.
- Provide a recent photograph and fingerprints.
- Supply employment information
- List your name, date of birth, and other essential information.
- Registration can be permanent or temporary, depending on your age, record, the victim(s) age, and other details relevant to your case.
U.S. Average Sex Crime Sentences
According to data from the United States Sentencing Commission, 98.8% of sexual offenders were imprisoned with an average sentence of 191 months.
- The average sentence for producing child pornography was 262 months.
- The average sentence for those convicted of traveling to engage in prohibited sexual conduct with a minor was 147 months.
- The average sentence for offenders convicted of rape was 178 months.
- The average sentence for offenders convicted of abusive sexual contact was 27 months.
- The average sentence for offenders convicted of statutory rape was 30 months.
Other Consequences of a Sexual Conviction
Being convicted of a sex crime harms your reputation, relationships, and may result in lengthy prison sentences. But the negative impact does not stop there. The fines and sex offender registration will affect you long after your release.
In addition, sex convictions can limit your ability to live where you want, access social media, own a gun, obtain or maintain employment, enroll in higher education programs, or secure some licenses and certifications. You may even lose custody of your children or have trouble with citizenship.
Sex Crime Defenses & How to Reduce a Potential Sentence
If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, it’s natural to be worried. But there are several strategies you can use to improve your case, defend yourself, and possibly reduce your sentence if convicted.
First, Work with an Attorney
One of the most critical steps to take if you are facing sex crime charges is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can provide the guidance and support you need throughout the legal process, from the investigation and pre-trial phase to the trial itself.
Your attorney will help you understand your rights, evaluate the evidence being used against you, negotiate with prosecutors, and build a strong defense strategy.
Use Your Right to Remain Silent
When most people are accused of a sexual offense, they want to cooperate and explain the situation themselves, hoping to dispel the notion that they did something wrong. But this is almost always the wrong strategy. Law enforcement counts on your desire to explain away the situation, and you may incriminate yourself further or complicate your case in another way.
Under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. This means you do not have to answer questions or make any statements to law enforcement or prosecutors without your attorney present. You should avoid discussing the case with anyone except your attorney and not share any information or evidence that could be used against you.
Gather Evidence that Supports Your Defense
One of the most effective strategies to avoid conviction for a sex crime is to gather evidence that favors your argument. This may include eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, or expert testimony. It can also mean compiling mitigating factors that may work to your benefit.
Challenge the Evidence Against You
In addition to collecting evidence that supports your defense, you can also attack the prosecution’s evidence against you. This may include disputing the validity of witness testimony, questioning the admissibility of specific evidence, or arguing that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof. It could also mean establishing that the alleged victim consented to the conduct or is making false claims.
Negotiate a Plea
In some cases, negotiating a plea agreement may be the best option to avoid conviction for a more serious sex crime. A plea could involve agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge or accepting a reduced sentence to avoid a trial and a potentially harsher punishment.
Consult A Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer
Sex crime cases involve complicated issues and life-changing penalties. Therefore, it’s critical to take accusations seriously from the start. It’s best to retain an attorney who has worked for years defending clients who have faced similar charges.