While sex crimes are often associated with violent acts like rape or assault, Texas considers even voluntary sex involving a minor to be a serious crime. Legally speaking, a minor cannot consent to sexual activity. This means that a Collin County resident caught having sex with a minor may face serious criminal charges.
What Is “Statutory Rape”?
Although people use the colloquial term “statutory rape” to describe sex with a minor, that phrase does not appear in the Texas Penal Code. There are actually multiple potential crimes that apply to sex with minors in Texas:
- Under Section 22.011 of the Penal Code, it is “sexual assault” to intentionally or knowingly cause the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a person under the age of 17.
- If the person is under the age of 14, sexual penetration is considered “aggravated sexual assault” under Section 22.021.
- Even if there is no intercourse or penetration, any “sexual contact” with a person under the age of 17–e.g., touching “with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person”–is considered criminal indecency with a child under Section 21.11.
Is Sex Between Teenagers Illegal?
Collin County high school students could be engaged in voluntary conduct among themselves that would constitute a crime under the definitions above. For that reason, Texas does recognize a so-called “Romeo & Juliet” exception to its sex crimes laws. Basically, it is an “affirmative defense” to statutory rape that the defendant was no more than three years older than the alleged victim. In other words, an 18-year-old having consensual sex with a 16-year-old is not a crime. It is also not illegal for a teenager who is legally married to have consensual sex with their spouse regardless of their respective ages.
What If You Did Not Know the Other Person Was a Minor?
Many people who are charged with statutory rape tell us they had no idea how old their partner was. In some cases, the other person outright lied about their age. Unfortunately, this does not matter under Texas law. There is no affirmative defense to statutory rape based on “mistake of age.” Even if you had a totally reasonable belief the other person was of legal age, you can still be tried and convicted of a sex crime.
What Are the Consequences of a Conviction for Sex with a Minor in Collin County?
Sex with a person under 17 is normally considered a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Sex with a person under 14 is a first-degree felony punishable by 25 to 99 years in prison and sex with a person under 6 is punishable by 25 years to life. Sexual indecency involving a minor is charged as either a second- or third-degree felony depending on the circumstances.
If a Collin County resident is convicted of any type of crime involving sex with a minor, he or she must also register as a sex offender, possibly for the rest of their lives. Given these severe consequences, it is important to contact a qualified Collin County criminal defense lawyer if you are under suspicion of any type of sex crime. Call the offices of Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC, today to speak with an experienced Collin County sex crimes attorney who can help you with your case.