By Benson Varghese

Published on: June 30th, 2016 at 1:16 AM
Last Updated: September 15th, 2020 at 9:58 AM

Sexual Assault of a Child under 17, sometimes referred to as Sexual Assault of a Minor in Texas, is generally a second-degree felony that carries a punishment range of 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Under certain circumstances, the charge can be raised to Aggravated Sexual Assault. For instance, an allegation that a date rape drug such as Rohypnol was used or the victim was younger than 14 could raise the charge to an Aggravated Sexual Assault.

Similarly, an allegation of two or more acts that took place more than 30 days apart with one or separate victims under the age of 14 could give rise to a Continuous Sexual Assault charge.


What is Statutory Rape in Texas?

Sexual Assault of a Child under 17 is often referred to as “Statutory Rape.” This is because, under Texas law, a person under the age of 17 is unable to give consent. This is true even if the alleged victim is a “willing” participant in the sexual activity or relationship.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault of a Minor?

There is no statute of limitations for statutory rape in Texas, however that has not always been the case. For certain offenses involving child victims, the statute of limitations was once 10 years and subsequently 10 years after the victim’s 18th birthday, before the limitation was finally removed altogether. If the defense can show the statute of limitations expired before the law change, including any tolling periods, the state will no longer be able to prosecute the matter. This is one of the possible defenses we might explore in a case after we have been hired on a case. Formulating this answer often takes a significant amount of research so this is not something we can do over the phone for non-clients.

Sexual Assault of a Child in Texas – First Degree

Sexual assault of a minor under 17 also becomes a first degree offense is the accused is prohibited from marrying the victim under Texas Penal Code 22.011(f). This usually comes up in cases where the accused and victim are related and any sexual relationship would be incestuous.  Note that Section 22.011(f) has been found to be unconstitutional as applied to in cases where the prohibition against marriage was bigamy, in that the law treated married and unmarried people differently. See Estes v. State, No. 02-14-00460-CR, 2016 WL 1164194, at *3 (Tex. App. Mar. 24, 2016).

What is “Super Aggravated” Sexual Assault?

Sometimes prosecutors will use the term “Super Aggravated Sexual Assault” to describe an Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child where the victim is under the age of 6 when the offense took place. This is considered a “Super Aggravated” offense because it carries a punishment range with a minimum of 25 years in prison up to life in prison, just like Continuous Sexual Assault of a Child.

Sexual Assault of a Child under 17 Defined

Sexual Assault of a Child under 17 is codified in Texas Penal Code 22.011. Sexual assault can occur a number of ways:

  • The defendant is alleged to have penetrated the child’s anus or sex organ
  • The defendant is alleged to have penetrated the child’s mouth
  • The defendant caused the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of the defendant
  • The defendant causes the anus of the child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of the defendant
  • The defendant causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of the defendant

Is Sex Offender Registration Required for Sexual Assault of a Child under 17?

Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault require lifetime registration as a sex offender. Click here to learn more about Sex Offender Registration in Texas.

What are Potential Outcomes to a Sexual Assault of a Child Charge in Texas?

Once a case has been accepted by a prosecutor, there are a number of possible outcomes to the case. First, understand that you cannot be offered deferred adjudication for this offense by a prosecutor or be given deferred adjudication from the judge. Deferred adjudication is prohibited for this charge under Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12 Section 5. Second, a judge cannot order probation for this charge pursuant to Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12 Section 3g. While a jury may be able to recommend probation, they can only do so on sentences that are 10 years or less in length. A jury that convicted a person of sexual assault of the minor is unlikely to come back with a sentence of 10 years or less and recommend that the sentence be probated.

What are the Average Prison Sentences for Sexual Assault of a Child in Texas?

sexual assault prison

So, is All Lost Simply because an Allegation is Made?

No. While detectives are looking for information that is incriminating, a Tarrant County child sexual assault defense attorney can conduct their own investigation and uncover information that will assist in your defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney can guide you through the process of gathering information that may benefit you, and in appropriate cases, begin preparing mitigation evidence on your behalf. Additionally, your attorney may be able to secure one of the following outcomes for you.

  1. The case may get no-billed at the grand jury stage;
  2. The case may get dismissed after indictment;
  3. You may be able to plead charge that does not require prison time;
  4. You may be able to plead to a charge that does not require registration as a sex offender.
  5. You may take your case to trial and be found not guilty.

Call an Attorney for Help Defending Against Statutory Rape Charges in Fort Worth

Our defense attorneys are experienced in handling charges for the sexual assault of a minor in Fort Worth. Combined we have over five decades of experience exclusively in criminal law. Our partners are all former prosecutors. Several have worked in the Crimes Against Children Unit, and know how to find weaknesses in cases and identify investigative issues. We are experienced in analyzing forensic interviews, reviewing SANEs (Sexual Assault Nurse Examinations), and overcoming fabricated allegations.


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