Indecent assault is a relatively new crime that lies somewhere in the middle of a traditional assault offense and a sex crime. Passed into law in 2019, the indecent assault statute increased the penalties for certain nonconsensual contact that is made for the purpose of sexual gratification. While a conviction for indecent assault is not currently on the list of registerable sex offenses, a conviction for indecent assault is still very serious. At Guest and Gray, our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience defending clients charged with indecent assault and other sex offenses.What Is Indecent Assault?
Under Texas Penal Code § 22.012, the indecent assault statute prohibits certain conduct that is intended to “arouse or gratify the sexual desire” of the actor or any other person. More specifically, indecent assault involves any of the following actions:
- Touching the anus, breast, or any part of another’s genitals;
- Touching another person with the defendant’s anus, breast or genitals;
- Exposing or attempting to expose another person’s genitals, buttocks, pubic region, or a woman’s nipples;
- Causing someone to come into contact with the blood, seminal fluid, vaginal fluid, saliva, urine, or feces of another.
Importantly, any of the above acts may or may not constitute indecent assault; however, the act must be accompanied by some sexual motivation on the part of the actor. For example, a teenager who lifts up the skirt of a fellow student might commit indecent assault if they lifted the skirt to satisfy their own sexual desires or a friend’s. However, if they were just doing it to embarrass the other student, it may not rise to the level of indecent assault.
A conviction for indecent assault is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. However, often, prosecutors will charge indecent assault with other related crimes, such as public lewdness or indecent exposure. While a conviction for indecent assault does not require you to register as a sex offender, a conviction for these other crimes may require sex offender registration.Defending Against Indecent Assault and Other Sex Crimes
There are certainly defenses to indecent assault charges, the most of which is challenging the prosecution’s claim that the act was performed with the intent to arouse or gratify a sexual desire. However, if there are other charges contained in an information or indictment, it may make the most sense to focus a defense on those crimes, especially if they are registerable sex offenses.
Determining how to defend against a case is a skill, and the goal is always to minimize your overall exposure. Certainly, if there are defenses to every claim, they should be raised. Similarly, if you face only indecent assault charges, you must develop a compelling defense to the charge. However, often, indecent assault is the least serious charge on an indictment. In these situations, it may be in your best interest to negotiate with the prosecution in hopes of getting them to drop the more serious charges if you agree to an indecent assault conviction. Of course, every case is different, and you should never plead guilty to a crime you didn’t commit or a crime to which you have a viable defense. There is a lot of pressure of defendants who believe they are not guilty to accept a lesser plea offer for sexual offenses. The possibility of lifetime registration, or a lifetime in prison, will make most people seriously consider taking a plea offer to lesser included offense. That being said, an indecent assault could be considered as a resolution depending on the facts and a client’s goals.Have You Been Charged With a Texas Sex Crime?
If you have recently been charged with indecent assault or other serious sex offenses, it is imperative that you reach out to a knowledgeable Dallas County sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible. At Guest and Gray, we have helped countless clients successfully defend against indecent assault and other serious crimes. We will aggressively advocate on your behalf from the moment you bring us on board, ensuring that your voice is heard. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give Guest and Gray a call today at (972) 564-4644. We proudly represent clients in Dallas, Collin, Kaufman and Rockwall Counties.