What Is Indecent Assault In Texas? Groping Charges

Indecent Assault in Texas

Did you know it can be illegal to grope someone in Texas? It’s called “indecent assault” and it can land you behind bars for up to a year.

Before September 2019, groping someone in Texas was a Class C misdemeanor — the same as a traffic ticket. Then, the Texas Legislature passed a new law, titled “indecent assault,” to punish groping more severely. Here’s a look at the new law, the punishment, and recent examples of people who have been arrested for this offense.

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What is Indecent Assault in Texas?

Indecent assault in Texas is described in Texas Penal Code 22.012 as:

  • Touching the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person:
  • Touching another person with the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person;
  • Exposing or attempting to expose another person’s genitals, pubic area, anus, buttocks, or female nipple; or
  • Causing another person to contact the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva, urine, or feces of any person.

Essentially, this law covers groping or inappropriate sexual contact, such as pinching someone’s rear or grabbing their breast. In order for any of the actions above to be a crime, the alleged touching of a victim must have been non-consensual, and the offender’s intent must have been to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of themselves or any other person.

What is the Punishment for Indecent Assault?

Class A misdemeanorUnder this new law, an indecent assault charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of up to a year in county jail and a maximum $4,000 in fines. Along with these punishments, people convicted of indecent assault could also lose their right to carry a firearm for five years.

Class A misdemeanor

Will Someone Convicted of Indecent Assault have to Register as a Sex Offender?

While an indecent assault charge is sexual in nature, people convicted of this offense do not have to register as a sex offender.

Why did Texas Criminalize Groping?

Before this law was passed in September of 2019, Texas was one of six states without specific laws covering groping or inappropriate sexual contact. Texas only had laws criminalizing sexual assault if the criminal conduct included penetration or a victim younger than 17. So, for instance, if someone was accused of groping prior to September of 2019, they would likely be ticketed for “assault by offensive contact,” a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine, with no possibility of arrest or jail time. The Texas legislature noticed this considerable lack of punishment and decided to raise the severity of the crime to a Class A misdemeanor, on par with Assault by Bodily Injury.

Indecent Assault in Texas News

In January of 2021, a former Midland County sheriff candidate was charged with indecent assault and indecent exposure after groping a package delivery driver.

A Pearland softball coach was arrested for indecent assault in February of 2019 for inappropriately touching a juvenile during private batting lessons.

Texas Rangers arrested a Tahoka police officer in April of 2020 for indecent assault along with various other crimes such as prostitution.

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How Common are Groping Charges in Fort Worth?

Since September 1, 2019, the Fort Worth Police Department has reported 10,407 misdemeanor assault cases. Out of these 10,407 cases, only 87 of these were for indecent assault. With less than one percent of all misdemeanor assault cases stemming from groping, it is relatively rare charge in Fort Worth.

What are Possible Defenses to Indecent Assault?

To be convicted of groping, a prosecutor must prove the intention of the alleged defendant was to arouse or sexually gratify themselves or another, as well as proving that the alleged act was non-consensual. In certain cases, this can be challenging for prosecutors who may have a hard time proving that such acts were for sexual gratification, rather than a joke or play.

Facing a Sex Crimes Charge? Contact Us.

If you or a loved one is accused of groping, it is critical that you have an experienced defense team on your side. The defense lawyers at Varghese Summersett have extensive experience handling these types of cases. There’s a reason we have a reputation as one of the best criminal defense firms in Fort Worth. Call 817-203-2220 today for a free consultation with a member of our team.

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