Sex offense allegations can ruin a child’s life. Texas law allows juveniles, children who are at least 10 years of age but less than 17 years of age, to be charged with most of the same sex offenses committed by adults, including:
Aggravated sexual assault
Prohibited sexual conduct
Indecency with a child by contact
Indecency with a child by exposure
Sexual assault of a minor
Possession of child pornography
Depending upon the charges, prosecutors could petition to have your child certified as an adult offender and tried in an adult criminal court with the possibility of a lengthy confinement in state prison if convicted. Even if the case is remains in juvenile court, your child could be ordered to list his or her name on the state sex offender registry for 10 years.
Sexual assault in Texas is defined as intentionally or knowingly causing: the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another by any means, without that person’s consent; the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor without the person’s consent; or causing the sexual organ of another person, without their consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor.1
Sexual assault is classified as a second-degree felony, but can be enhanced depending on characteristics of the victim.2
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is enhanced to aggravated sexual assault if during the commission of the sexual assault: (1) the actor causes serious bodily injury or attempts to cause the death of the victim or another person; (2) the actor uses acts or words to place the victim in fear of being trafficked, killed, seriously injured, or kidnapped; (3) the actor uses or exhibits a deadly weapon; (4) a person acts in concert with the actor; (5) the actor gives the victim a substance capable of impairing the victim’s ability to understand what’s happening or the victim’s ability to resist the act; (6) the victim is younger than 14 years of age; or (7) the victim is elderly or disabled.3
Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony.4 The minimum term of imprisonment will be increased from 5 to 99 years, to 25 to 99 years if the victim is younger than six years at the time of the offense, or the victim is younger than 14 years old and the actor commits the offense in a manner described by (1)-(5) above.5
Sex Offenses Against Other Minors
The age of consent for consensual sex in Texas is 17 years old. Meaning, even if both parties are 16 years old, the sex is illegal and either party may be charged with a sex crime.
One major difference between juvenile sex crimes and adult sex crimes is juveniles who commit sex crimes against other minors are not classified as pedophiles – adults who are sexually attracted to children. In determining whether to enhance, reduce or dismiss charges for sex crimes, the age difference between the accused and the alleged victim, or the absence of force or threat by the defendant will be considered.
Juvenile Sex Offense Sentencing in Austin, TX
A juvenile offender convicted of certain serious sex crimes in Texas may serve one of three possible types of sentences. The offender may receive probation, an indeterminate sentence, or a determinate sentence.
If a juvenile admits to an offense, or a judge enters a finding of true for the offense committed, the juvenile becomes adjudicated delinquent. Additionally, under Texas law, a juvenile who becomes adjudicated delinquent of a sex crime might be required to register as a sex offender in the state of Texas. Texas is one of 10 sates which have this requirement.
One difference between juvenile sex crimes and adult sex crimes is when a juvenile offender is required to register as a sex offender, they are only registered for a 10 year period. Adults are registered for life. Although juveniles are only registered for 10 years, it is important to keep in mind the numerous implications of sex crime registration, including emotional trauma and public condemnation.
Juvenile Offenders in Texas
The State of Texas treats the juvenile offenders differently than adult defendants. Unlike the adult criminal system, juvenile cases are largely governed by the Texas Family Code. Also, juvenile delinquency is treated with the goal of rehabilitation instead of punishment. Instead of being convicted and prosecuted as a criminal offender, a juvenile is generally prosecuted for “delinquency” in Texas. Similar to the adult criminal justice system though, juveniles maintain the right to a trial by jury. However, unlike with adults, the judge, rather than a jury, determines the punishment of a child adjudicated delinquent for committing a criminal act.
As children mature and develop, poor judgment and an inability to control impulses can result in a juvenile being charged with a sex crime. Whether your child is under investigation by the police for committing a juvenile sex crime or has already been charged, you need the services of a skilled and resourceful juvenile defense attorney.
Strategically and aggressively fighting juvenile sex crimes prosecution is essential to when facing serious charges. This includes opposing prosecution efforts to certify a juvenile as an adult, and advocating for treatment and rehabilitation over removal from the home and commitment to a facility.
Austin juvenile defense attorney Rick Cofer of the Law Office of Rick Cofer, PLLC, is a former Travis County assistant district attorney, with years of experience prosecuting and defending more than one hundred juvenile sex crime cases. He is capable of giving your child the strategic, innovative, and aggressive defense that serious sex crimes charges demand.Call The Law Office of Rick Cofer today at (512) 200-3801 or contact us through the online form for help.