What is aggravated sexual assault of a child in Texas?
Aggravated sexual assault of a child takes two forms in Texas: it is either aggravated based on causing or threatening injury or using an intoxicant; or the offense is aggravated due to the child being under the age of 14.
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is defined generally as sex with or without consent of a child (who by definition cannot give consent) and by causing or threatening serious bodily injury or threat, exhibiting a deadly weapon, or by use of drugs or an intoxicant. Sexual assault of a child is also aggravated if the victim is under 14. (Penal Code 22.021).
Lawyers also consider certain aggravated sexual assault charges to be “super aggravated sexual assault charges” even though that term is not found in the Penal Code.
What is the punishment for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child?
Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a first degree felony with a punishment range of 5-99 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Sexual assault is “super aggravated” or carries a 25-year minimum if the victim was under six years old or the victim was under 14 but another aggravating factor was present. As explained below, you cannot get probation, deferred adjudication, or parole for a super aggravated sexual offense charge.
What is the punishment for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child with a prior conviction?
If you have a prior conviction for a sexually violent offense, you are facing life without parole as a mandatory sentence.
What is the sex offender registration requirement for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child?
If you are convicted of, or placed on deferred adjudication for, aggravated sexual assault, you will have to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life.
What happens when an accusation of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is made?
A referral will be made to CPS (now TX DFPS) and a forensic interview will be conducted.
False Accusations of Aggravated Sexual Assault
False accusations of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child occur for a number of reasons. Divorce, child custody issues, embarrassment, ” buyer’s remorse,” and manipulation are just a few of the reasons false accusations are made. Some people may make false accusations (or get a child to make up an accusation) as a form of revenge or to get back at someone they are angry with. Others may do it for attention or to gain sympathy from others. Some may falsely accuse someone due to a misunderstanding or a misperception of events. Additionally, some people may falsely confess to a crime, including sexual assault, due to psychological issues or pressure from law enforcement.
Children can be easily influenced and may not fully understand the implications of lying, especially when it comes to serious matters like sexual abuse. Children may be coerced or threatened by the perpetrator or other adults to keep the abuse a secret, or to fabricate a story. Additionally, some children may not have the language or understanding to accurately describe what has happened to them, which can lead to confusion or inaccuracies in their statements. It’s important to remember that children may not have the same level of understanding or ability to process information as adults do, and they may be more susceptible to manipulation. That’s why when children report sexual abuse, they should be believed and their reports should be taken seriously, regardless of whether or not they have lied in the past.
Defenses: Advice from a Tarrant County Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Lawyer
As hard as it seems to fathom, innocent people get charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault. Professing your innocence to a detective is NOT going to keep you from getting arrested. The absolute best thing you can do for yourself is to reach out to an attorney immediately. Do not even consider calling the detective back, even if they claim to not believe the allegation and “just want your side of the story” to “close out the investigation.” It’s true, the investigation will be closed – upon your arrest.
In addition to aggressively and diligently mounting a defense to these accusations, an attorney can maximize the chances you might be able to self-surrender instead of being arrested and fight these allegations for you at the only real place the truth has a chance of setting you free – in court.
Can you get probation for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child?
It depends. A judge cannot give you straight probation because Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is a 3G offense in Texas. A jury cannot give you probation after a conviction if 1) your sentence is over 10 years or 2) the victim was under the age of 14. Neither a judge nor jury can give you probation for a “super aggravated” sexual assault.
A prosecutor could agree to give you deferred adjudication unless you’ve been previously convicted of certain sexual offenses. A prosecutor cannot give you deferred adjudication for a super aggravated sexual assault offense or if you are a habitual offender.
Even if a person were granted probation, they would be expected to follow a number of conditions that limit their day-to-day life. In addition to registering as a sex offender, they will have to stay out of certain child safety zones, oftentimes find a new residence, find suitable employment, abide by curfews, attend sex offender classes and treatment, and potentially wear a GPS monitor.
How do we defend Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child charges?
First and foremost we start by taking a close look at what the state has. We find weaknesses in the prosecution. Specifically, we look at the allegation or forensic interview and start comparing statements to find discrepancies and suggestions a person is not being truthful. We look for impeachment evidence. We look at the physical evidence or lack thereof. We look at motives a person may have to fabricate an allegation. Every case is unique but we have the breadth of experience, and we understand the other side of the case because we started our careers as prosecutors. We don’t just know their playbook – we helped write it. If you’ve been charged or are under investigation, call a Tarrant County Aggravated Sexual Assault defense attorney at our office immediately.