Houston Improper Student-Teacher Relationship Defense Attorney
Inappropriate relationships between teachers and students are often in the news. Many of these stories are sensationalized, but there is one thing to keep in mind through them all. In Texas, there are laws specifically designed against improper student-teacher relationships, and if you violate them, you may face charges.
The penalties for a student-teacher criminal charge are numerous and harsh, but there are often many other things on the line as well, including your ability to work and your reputation. Even if you believe you are fully innocent of the charges against you, we highly encourage you to seek out the help of an experienced defense attorney to guide you. At the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak, we will work to create the best defense for your case to help you head into this very difficult legal process.
What is an improper Student-Teacher Relationship?
An improper student-teacher relationship is one in which an adult engages in a relationship that is considered improper, including engaging in sexual conduct in any way.
Texas Laws Related to Student-Teacher Relationships
There are Texas laws that deal directly with this type of improper relationship. If you are facing a student-teacher criminal charge, that means that the police believe that, in some way, you have violated one or more components of this law.
Texas Penal Code § 21.12. states:
(a) An employee of a public or private primary or secondary school commits an offense if the employee:
(1) engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school at which the employee works;
(2) holds a position described by Section 21.003(a) or (b), Education Code, regardless of whether the employee holds the appropriate certificate, permit, license, or credential for the position, and engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person the employee knows is:
(A) enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school, other than a school described by Subdivision (1); or
(B) a student participant in an educational activity that is sponsored by a school district or a public or private primary or secondary school, if students enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school are the primary participants in the activity; or
(3) engages in conduct described by Section 33.021 with a person described by Subdivision (1), or a person the employee knows is a person described by Subdivision (2)(A) or (B), regardless of the age of that person.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.
(b-1) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) the actor was the spouse of the enrolled person at the time of the offense; or
(2) the actor was not more than three years older than the enrolled person and, at the time of the offense, the actor and the enrolled person were in a relationship that began before the actor’s employment at a public or private primary or secondary school.
(c) If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code, the actor may be prosecuted under either section or both sections.
(d) The name of a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school and involved in an improper relationship with an educator as provided by Subsection (a) may not be released to the public and is not public information under Chapter 552, Government Code.
If you are facing any of these types of risks, whether you are being accused of this, implicated, or charged with it, it is critical to take legal action to protect yourself. Let our attorney help you with an improper student-teacher relationship defense strategy.
What are the penalties for improper student-teacher relationships in Texas?
The penalties for improper student-teacher relationships are severe. In every situation, the Court will consider the details of the case and determine the level of punishment appropriate for the crime at hand.
Under state laws, these crimes are considered second-degree felonies. As a result, they are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Fines can reach $10,000 as well. The judge has the discretion to impose judgments outside of this as well.
It is also important to consider the common collateral damage that also comes from cases like this. For example, many teachers lose their licenses and ability to work with children. They may struggle to find work as well. There is also a significant amount of reputation risk, which can follow a person for years.
As a result of this, it is critical to form a strong defense that protects you from the outcome of the worst punishment if possible to do so.
Common Questions About Improper Student-Teacher Relationship Charges
Can I lose my license because of an improper student-teacher relationship charge?
If you are convicted of this crime, you may also face claims made by the Texas Education Agency. They can take action against you, including revoking your teacher’s license. They may suspend it in other situations.
What type of defense is possible with improper student-teacher relationship charges?
It is our goal to help you find the right defense in your situation. The circumstances surrounding a case are often unique, which requires a customized plan of action. We have successfully fought and won these cases for clients because of the tailored approach that we take with each case.
How can Attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak help you fight these charges?
Our team will work closely with you to protect your rights in cases like this. A component of that is working to prove your innocence when it is possible to do so. There are many situations where this can occur, such as being charged with a crime based on the hearsay of others.
To help protect your rights, we will:
- Work to gather all evidence in the case, with the goal of understanding what you are facing
- Protect your rights on an ongoing basis
- Provide insight into the legal defense options that may apply in your case
- Give you guidance on your legal strategy and help to get your charges reduced
- Defend you in a court of law
Contact Our Law Office Today for the Legal Help You Need
If you are facing a student-teacher criminal charge, take action now. Reach out to The Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak for a free consultation to discuss your case. We are available 24/7 to help you even when you are facing questions from the police. Do not wait to contact us, get in touch as soon as possible. Request a free consultation to go over your improper student-teacher relationship defense options now.