Have you been accused of sexual assault with a child?

Sexual assault of a child is looked upon as a horrific crime. And while most people (as well as the legal system itself) would agree that mere allegations do not establish guilt, the stigma of the charge, or any charge of child molestation, even if unsubstantiated, can be overwhelming.

If you are facing a charge of child sexual assault, it is essential to act quickly and find an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands these charges and how best to defend against them. Find out what you are up against. Contact the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak for an honest assessment of your case. The consultation is free.

What is Sexual Assault of a Child?

Sexual assault in Texas includes forcible rape, date rape, rape through coercion, and similar acts. When we use the term “rape,” we are referring to sexual penetration without consent. And in the case of children under the age of 17, the law states that they do not have the legal capacity to consent. Therefore, absent a valid defense, sex with a person 16 years old or younger constitutes sexual assault. And mistake, even an honest mistake, as to the age of the child is not a defense to the charge.

Having sex with a child under 17 years of age, where no force is involved, is sometimes referred to as statutory rape. When we use that term, we are referring to consensual sexual relations, often between teenagers who are relatively close in age. And provided that the child is at least 14, and the other person is not more than three years older than the child, it is a defense to a sexual assault charge.

On the other hand, if you have sexual relations with a person under the age of 14, the defenses that may be available in statutory rape cases will not apply. This is the case whether or not the sexual act involved force, threats, or improper use of certain relationships.

Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under the Age of 14

If the child is 13 years old or younger, a defense based upon the relative ages of the child and the other person is no longer available. Sexual penetration or certain types of sexual contact (between the mouth and sexual organ, for example), where the child is under 14 – whether or not you knew the age of the child – constitutes aggravated sexual assault under section 22.021 of the Penal Code. There are other factors that can support a charge of aggravated sexual assault, such as use of a deadly weapon, causing serious bodily injury, and others. But these factors, while not irrelevant, are not necessary in order to establish aggravated assault where the victim is under the age of 14.

Sentencing for Sexual Assault of a Child, Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, and “Super” Aggravated Assault of a Child

Absent any additional aggravating factors, the classifications and potential sentences for sexual assault of a child in Texas are as follows:

  • Child between 14 and 17. This is sexual assault under section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code. It is generally a second degree felony, with a sentencing range of between 2 and 20 years in prison.
  • Child between 6 and 13. This is aggravated sexual assault (section 22.021). It is a felony of the first degree, with a possible sentence of life, or up to 99 years, with a minimum of 5 years in prison. The minimum prison term is 25 years if there is a deadly weapon involved, if serious bodily injury results, if threats are made, if a date rape drug is used, or if the defendant acts in concert with another person who also commits sexual assault against the victim.
  • Child under 6. This is also a first degree felony, with a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

The sexual assault of a child under the age 6, as well as the sexual assault of a child under the age of 14 where the defendant acts in concert with another individual who also sexually assaults the child, are colloquially known as Super Aggravated Sexual Assault of a child.

Defenses to Charges of Sexual Assault of a Child

If you have been arrested for sexual assault of a child, remember that, notwithstanding the gravity of the offense, you are innocent unless you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution’s case may be vulnerable to attack, and defenses may be available, including:

  • Intentionally false testimony. This can come in the form of statements by alleged witnesses, or by the victim. Someone may have a motive to falsely testify against you.
  • Mistaken testimony. It is not unusual for witnesses and others to make mistakes, including mistakes as to the identity of the person charged with the offense.
  • This can come not only from the police, but also from social workers and other mental health professionals, as they “interview” the child and reach conclusions about what may have happened behind closed doors.

These are just some examples of defenses to charges of sexual assault of a child. Other defenses may also be applicable, depending upon the facts of the case.

Houston Child Sexual Assault and Child Molestation Defense Attorney

At the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak, we will examine the charge against you, and look for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. All possible defenses will be pursued. To find out more about how we seek to develop defenses for the benefit of our clients, call us today. Your initial consultation is free.