Aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault are two distinct offenses in Texas. Attorney Letty Martinez discusses the difference in this short video.
Generally speaking, sexual assault involves allegations of specific sexual acts against another person without their consent. In adult cases, a sexual assault can become aggravated, which means it bumps the punishment up from 2 to 20 years in prison to 5 to 99 years or life in prison.
In order to get a sexual assault bumped up to an aggravated sexual assault, there has to be an aggravating factor present. There are a number of things that can make it aggravated.
For example, if there is a deadly weapon used; if there is serious bodily injury caused; if there is an attempt to cause the death of the individual; if the victim is disabled or elderly, meaning that they’re 65 years or older; if the victim is placed in fear of a threat of death, serious bodily injury. Trafficking or kidnapping can also make it aggravated. If there are two or more people that act together to sexually assault one victim, that’s another aggravating factor. If there are certain types of date rape drugs used, that can make it aggravated.
When we’re talking about sexual assaults involving a child, meaning a child under the age of 17, it then becomes aggravated if the child is under the age of 14. Then, if the child is younger than six years of age, that is an aggravated sexual assault of a child, but the minimum is no longer five years. It bumps up to 25 years minimum.