There is so much to unpack when it comes to the Jeffery Epstein case: a long history of sexually abusing teenage girls, a plea deal ultimately leading to Alexander Acosta’s resignation, further accusations against Donald Trump…
The media has even been accused of sugar-coating his actions by the language they use to describe the case. They say Jeffery Epstein paid to have sex with “underage women” when technically, there is no such thing.
Webster defines a woman as an adult human female. An adult is legally defined in most states as a person who has reached the age of 18. You would never describe a person as an “underage adult” — you’re either 18 or your not.
Therefore, an “underage woman” doesn’t actually exist. A female can be a girl or a woman. Not both. Jeffry Epstein committed statutory rape.
Further, you can bet Epstein’s sweetheart plea deal (a 13-months county jail sentence) is a heck of a lot more lenient than what he would’ve been handed down here in the Lone Star State… by decades.
Educate yourself on the charges and penalties related to statutory rape laws in Texas. If you are charged, you will no doubt need to fight back aggressively.
What Is Statutory Rape In Texas?
Each state has various “limits” when it comes to statutory rape, but the definition of the crime is similar across the country. Statutory rape occurs when an adult engages in sexual conduct with someone under the age of consent.
What Is the Age of Consent in Texas?
The age of consent in Texas is 17. Any adult who has sex with someone age 16 or younger may be charged with statutory rape. There are exceptions, however, to these rules.
How Is Statutory Rape Charged in Texas?
In Texas, this crime is broken up into three categories:
- Aggravated sexual assault (sexual penetration with a victim under the age of 14)
- Sexual assault (sexual penetration with a victim between the ages of 14-17)
- Indecency with a child (sexual conduct with a victim under the age of 17)
Note that the last crime does not include penetration. Any sort of “sexual touching” may still be considered a statutory rape charge under Texas law.
So what are the exceptions?
Exceptions to Age of Consent In Texas Statutory Rape Laws
Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you may be able to use one of the following two exceptions as defense strategies.
The first is marriage. If you are an adult and are legally married to someone 16 or under, sexual conduct is lawful in the eyes of Texas. Children over the age of 14 may get married with parental consent. You have to be 18 to be married in the state of Texas without parental consent.
The second is a “close-in-age” exemption. In some states, these exceptions are called “Romeo and Juliet” laws. This is not embedded into Texas law but may be used as a valid defense in court.
If you are no more than three years older than the person involved in the sexual conduct, your charges may be dropped. When the sex was not consensual, you may still face sexual assault charges.
What Are the Penalties For Statutory Rape In Texas?
Texas law assigns different penalties to each of the three statutory rape charges.
Aggravated sexual assault is the most severe statutory rape charge. It is a first-degree felony. A conviction may result in 5-99 years behind bars. The defendant may also face up to $10,000 in fines.
Sexual assault and indecency with a child are both second-degree felonies. Penalties include between 2 and 20 years of imprisonment and the same maximum fine.
All three charges will land the defendant on the Texas sex offender registry. This particular penalty can affect you for decades. In addition to issues finding employment and housing, felons lose additional rights while they are incarcerated and after they leave jail. Don’t let the title of “felon” follow you for the rest of your life.
Defending against Statutory Rape Charges in Texas
We have already offered some defense strategies used to fight statutory rape charges in Texas. In addition, you may also argue that the following elements were present in your case:
- A false accusation
- Holes and inaccuracies in witness testimony
- Evidence was collected or used unlawfully
- Duress or entrapment was used to arrest you
- The wrong person was arrested
Ready to fight for your rights? Talk to a Texas defense lawyer about the best strategies for dropping your charges. A statutory rape charge can put you behind bars for decades, but an experienced attorney may be able to help you walk away.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.