Rape and other sex offenses are some of the most harshly punished crimes in Texas. While most sex offenses are characterized by a lack of consent, statutory rape is very different. The Texas statutory rape law makes it illegal for anyone over the age of 18 to have sex with someone under the age of 17. Although statutory rape doesn’t necessarily involve any force or violence, it is still considered rape under state law. Thus, anyone facing statutory rape charges in Texas must take them seriously. The Dallas criminal defense attorneys at Guest and Gray have decades of combined experience successfully representing clients facing some of the toughest cases, including sex offenses.What Is Statutory Rape?
Simply put, statutory rape is rape that is defined by statute. A typical rape crime occurs when someone has sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent. However, statutory rape is a crime because the law provides that someone under the age of 17 cannot provide their consent to have sex. So, even if a minor seemingly consents to sex, that consent is invalid. Notably, prosecutors do not need to prove that you used force or violence; it is enough to prove that you engaged in sexual activity with someone underage.
Texas does not have a specific statutory rape law. Instead, there are a variety of laws that rely on the principle of statutory rape. For example, Texas Penal Code § 22.011 provides, someone commits the crime of sexual assault if they:
- Penetrate the anus or sexual organ of a minor by any means;
- Penetrate the mouth of a minor with their penis;
- Cause the sexual organ of a minor to penetrate the mouth, anus or sexual organ of another person;
- Cause the mouth of a minor to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person; or
- Cause the anus of a minor to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person.
Texas law does not allow the “mistake of age” defense when it comes to statutory rape. In this way, it doesn’t matter whether the minor looks older than 17 or even told you they were an adult. However, just because you face statutory rape charges doesn’t mean you will be found guilty; there are defenses.Defenses to Statutory Rape
While being mistaken about a minor’s age is not a defense to statutory rape in Texas, there are other defenses that can result in an acquittal. Perhaps the most common defense is the “Romeo and Juliet” defense, which provides that it is not statutory rape if the alleged victim was at least 14 years old and the defendant was “not more than three years older than the victim and at the time of the offense.” For example, an 18-year-old cannot be charged with statutory rape for having sex with a 16-year-old.
Another defense to statutory rape charges is the marital defense. You cannot be convicted of statutory rape if you are married to the minor. While Texas requires someone to be at least 18 to get married, younger people can get married if they have the consent of their parents. Of course, for this defense to apply, the marriage must have been in effect at the time the sexual activity occurred. In other words, you cannot quickly get married to a minor to avoid a statutory rape prosecution.Respected Criminal Defense Attorneys Aggressively Represent Clients Charged with Sex Crimes Throughout Dallas, Rockwall and Forney County
If you have recently been arrested and charged with statutory rape in Texas, you deserve an attorney who will take your case as seriously as you do. At Guest and Gray, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional representation to each of our clients at every stage of the process. From the moment you bring our Dallas County sex crime lawyers onto your case, we will get to work developing a compelling defense. We represent clients in Dallas, Collin, Kaufman and Rockwall Counties. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, give Guest and Gray a call at (972) 564-4644.