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What is statutory rape?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2022 | Criminal Defense

In Texas and around the country, statutory rape is a crime that occurs when someone has sex with a minor. Laws vary depending on the state, but in some cases, a person can be charged even if they are a minor.

Defining statutory rape charges

Statutory rape occurs when two people have consensual sex, but one party is a minor who cannot legally consent. In Texas, the age of consent is 17. As a result, if an adult engages in sexual intercourse or other types of sexual contact with a child 16 or under, they could face charges of statutory rape.

In some cases, depending on the victim’s age, the perpetrator might face looser penalties. In other words, it may be considered less serious if the victim is 16 rather than 13. Texas also has a special law that forgives a sexual relationship between teenagers who have a three-year age difference. This is known as the Romeo and Juliet provision.

Penalties for statutory rape

The penalties handed down for a statutory rape conviction depend on the age of the victim and the type of sexual contact. However, if the specific charge is indecency with a child, a felony in the second degree, the individual can face two to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Sexual assault of a child is classified as a felony in the second degree and carries a prison sentence of five to 20 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

If the person is convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child, which is a first-degree felony, they can face five to 99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

In many cases, a person convicted of statutory rape is required to register as a sex offender. Depending on the specific nature of the crime, they can remain on the registry for their lifetime.