Every state’s laws differ regarding the charge of statutory rape, and the consequences in Texas if convicted of this charge are some of the harshest in the county.

There are various age  “limits” when it comes to statutory rape, but the legal definition of the crime is similar almost anywhere in the country. Statutory rape can be charged when you (as an adult) engage in sexual conduct with anyone under the “age of consent.” The current “age of consent” in Texas is seventeen. Therefore, if you, as an adult (over 18 years of age), have sex with someone age 16 or younger may be charged with statutory rape.

You must be aware that statutory rape can be charged even when the underage “victim” consented to the sexual act. If you are over 18 years old and engage in certain sexual acts with someone under 17, you can be convicted of brutal, serious sex crimes.

A conviction of a statutory rape charge will commonly result in high fines, very long prison terms, and registration as a sex offender for the rest of your life.

Are There Different Ways I Can Be Charged With Statutory Rape?

Yes, Texas’s current statutory rape laws can be enforced under various circumstances and charges.

Currently, under Texas laws, there are three primary ways in which the state’s “statutory rape” laws can be enforced, they are:

  • Aggravated assault on a child – This offense occurs when there is sexual penetration (of any kind) of or by a child under the age of 14 (13 and younger) by anyone of any age. The penalties are a minimum of 5 to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • Sexual assault of a child – This crime occurs if there is sexual penetration of or by a child under the age of 17 or younger by a person three or more years older than the victim. It can get you a minimum of 2 years, up to 20 years in prison, and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Indecency with a child – This crime is when you (as an adult engages) in sexual contact with a child or touching (other than penetration) who is 17 or younger and you are more than three years older than the victim. Again, you can receive a minimum of 2 years in prison, up to 20 years, and a $10,000 fine.

These laws vary, and so do the exact circumstances of your crime, but all are capable (if you’re convicted) of changing your life forever. If you are charged in any way with statutory rape, you must consult with a qualified Plano criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. These charges are almost always a felony and will have dire penalties if you’re convicted. Your thorough and aggressive Plano criminal defense lawyer will protect your rights and freedoms at all costs.

What Is the Romeo & Juliet Exception to a Statutory Rape Charge?

The “Romeo & Juliet Exception” may be one defense that will prevent you from severe criminal charges if you are a teenager and you engage in consensual sex with someone close to your age.

The law applies if you are between the ages of 14 and 17 and engage in consensual sex with someone less than three years older than yourself. However, this defense does not permit you to have sex with anyone who is under the age of 14 under any circumstances.

For example, if you are 14, you can consent to sex with a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old, etc. If the circumstances and your ages coincide with the parameters of the law, then the “Romeo & Juliet Exception” may prevent you from receiving statutory rape charges.

Any case involving a possible statutory rape charge, including the above defense, is always legally complex and involves dire emotions and consequences. Therefore, it’s mandatory that you consult with a qualified, local Dallas or Collin County criminal defense lawyer as soon as you’re charged. Your criminal defense law team will get ahead of your charges, and if any unique circumstance (such as the Romeo & Juliet defense) applies to you, will tirelessly fight for your rights under the law.

What Are Some Common Defenses Against a Statutory Rape Charge?

Due to the severity of these charges in Texas, your experienced criminal defense lawyer will look for any solid defense they may use on your behalf.

There are some commonly used defenses, such as:

  • The Marital Exception – Depending on the specifics of your case, this defense may provide you with an exception to statutory rape laws for legally married parties. However, the exact details of your charge will be vital to its use.
  • A coerced or illegally taped confession –  Many times, your confession of your (as the accused) is the critical evidence to convict you of statutory rape. However, if the confession was, in any way, illegally obtained, it may not be admissible in court.
  • Illegally gotten physical evidence – Important evidence needed to prove statutory rape may require a search warrant. Any evidence collected without a warrant may be inadmissible if one was not obtained or the police lacked probable cause. Your criminal defense law team could use this to your advantage.

I Feel I Could Be Charged With Statutory Rape in Texas; How Should I Proceed?

First, you begin to see that any kind of statutory rape charge you may face can end with you receiving dire and life-changing penalties and prison times.

If you are charged with statutory rape, you must consult with a local experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Your aggressive, detailed and experienced Plano criminal defense lawyer will analyze your case’s pertinent aspects, including the evidence against you and how it was obtained.

They will also identify the strength of the state’s case against you and develop any defenses that apply to the circumstances surrounding your unique case.

Your lawyer will also advise you on how the Texas statutory rape laws will apply to the case and mount a solid, winning defense that will protect all your rights and your freedom. Don’t hesitate, as the consequences are far too dire to neglect.