Sexual Assault of a Child is defined generally as sex with any person under the age of 17. This includes penetration as well as certain types of sexual contact. A person under 17 cannot legally give consent, and the fact that the underage individual may have been a willing participant is not a legal defense. It is also not a defense that the accused did not know the age of the child. It is not even a legal defense that the child lied about their age.
Sexual assault of a child becomes aggravated sexual assault of a child if the child was under 14. Sexual assault of a child becomes super aggravated sexual assault of a child if the child was under 6. Sexual assault of a child under 14 also becomes super aggravated sexual assault if there was another aggravating factor, such as exhibiting a deadly weapon, causing serious bodily injury, threatening serious bodily injury, or using drug or other intoxicants, among other factors.
Sexual assault of a child between the ages of 14-17 is a second degree felony. It is punishable by 2-20 years in prison.
Sexual assault of a child between the ages of 6-14 is a first degree felony. It is punishable by 5-99 years in prison.
Sexual assault of a child under 6 is punishable by 25 years to 99 years or life. There is no possibility of deferred adjudication, probation, or parole.
Sexual assault of a child under 14 with another aggravating factor (threat of causing serious bodily injury, death, use of a drug or alcohol etc.) is also super aggravated so it is punishable by 25 years to 99 years or life. There is no possibility of deferred adjudication, probation, or parole.
Whether you receive deferred adjudication, probation, or a prison sentence, you will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
Neither a judge nor a jury can impose probation as a sentence for sexual assault of a child if the child was under 14. Neither a judge or jury can impose a sentence of probation for super aggravated sexual assault. Neither a judge or a jury can impose a sentence of probation, if the sentence being probated is over 10 years. A judge cannot impose probation as a sentence for sexual assault of a child 14 to 17 years of age. A judge may also not grant shock probation because the shock community supervision statute expressly requires that ‘the defendant is otherwise eligible for community supervision. (Note for offenses before September 1, 2007, the law allowed for probation and therefore shock probation may be a possibility.)
A judge may impose deferred adjudication only if the judge makes a finding that placing the defendant on deferred adjudication is in the best interest of the victim. However, a judge may not impose deferred adjudication for a person who has received probation or deferred adjudication for a sexual offense. (See Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42A.102).
First, before you give any statements to anyone (including your spouse, and certainly law enforcement) call an attorney. A Tarrant County Child Sexual Assault Attorney at our office will talk to you about avoiding an arrest if possible, setting up a self-surrender if possible, explain the bond process, and how to best proceed. The biggest avoidable mistake we see people make is talking to a detective without counsel or believing anything a detective tells you during the course of an investigation.
You should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you believe you are under investigation. This includes a call from CPS. In every instance, CPS will be working with law enforcement (often without telling you) where there is an investigation of sexual assault of a child. In fact, it is not uncommon for a detective to be watching a forensic interview through a one-way mirror or video feed.
Unfortunately, false accusations of child sexual assault are made in Tarrant County and throughout Texas on a regular basis. False accusations often come up when the child is being manipulated by someone. This often occurs during child custody battles, divorces, or based on suggestions made by a biological parent who is no longer in the picture.
What most people don’t realize is a statement alone is enough for an arrest – and even a conviction. There’s not only a complete lack of any requirement of physical corroborating evidence, but most cases that are filed and many that result in convictions also have no physical evidence. Similarly, the alleged child victim does not have to be precise about a date when this occurred, so an “alibi” is generally not a defense. You’ll also find detectives and prosecutors tend to get tunnel vision and will absolutely press charges even with a passed polygraph.
Our team has defended all levels of sexual assault cases involving children, including cases involving allegations of “super aggravated” sexual assault and even cases that were alleged as automatic life without parole (LWOP) cases. We’ve been successful pre-trial, at the grand jury, and at trial. We’ve heard the words “Not Guilty” from Tarrant County juries. All the Partners at the firm started their careers off as Tarrant County prosecutors. We don’t just know their playbook, with some of our partners putting in over two decades at the Tarrant County District Attorneys Office, and having been assigned to the Crimes Against Children Unit, we helped write the playbook. In almost every case, we have more experience than the prosecutors. When it comes to defending allegations of child sexual abuse, you have to pull out all the stops, and that’s exactly what we have a reputation of doing. Give us a call for a complimentary consultation with an experience Tarrant County sexual assault of a child defense lawyer.