Charged with sexual assault?

Houston Sexual Assault Lawyer Nathaniel Pitoniak Understands Your Situation
 

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with sexual assault, call former Harris County prosecutor Nathaniel Pitoniak for a strong legal defense at (832) 730-2697

 

Answers About Sexual Assault in Texas, from a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

 
 
 
 

What is Sexual Assault in Texas?


Commonly referred to as rape, sexual assault is described under Texas Penal Code Chapter 22, Section 22.011. In general, Texas law defines sexual assault as any unwanted sexual contact with another person involving penetration and without consent, including:

Forcible Intercourse Without Consent

The most common understanding of rape, although any conduct that falls under the sexual assault statute can be considered rape.

Sexual Contact with a Minor

Also known as statutory rape, sexual contact with a person under the age of 17 in Texas is sexual assault because the victim is unable to consent under the law.

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child

When a person commits acts of sexual abuse against a child under 14 years of age, twice or more during a period of 30 days.

Consent under Texas Law

Sexual assault in Texas occurs under the condition that a perpetrator acted either intentionally or recklessly. Cases are often prosecuted solely on the testimony of the victim without other affirmative evidence, and prosecution is typically focused on the alleged lack of consent. There are numerous circumstances for which prosecutors have argued and successfully convicted defendants on the basis that the victim did not or could not consent to sexual contact, including:

  • Violence or physical force was used against the victim
  • Threats of violence or physical force were used against the victim, and the victim believed these threats were credible
  • Threats of violence or physical force were used against another person to compel the victim, and the victim believed these threats were credible
  • The victim was unconscious or incapacitated, and the defendant was aware of the victim’s condition
  • The victim was incapable of understanding the situation, due to mental incapacity
  • The victim did not know the sexual act was happening
  • The defendant used his or her position of authority to compel the victim to comply
  • The victim was too young to legally consent

What are the Penalties for Sexual Assault in Texas?

 
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Houston sexual assault attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak obtained a not guilty verdict for a client facing 25 years to life in prison for a sexual offense*

 
 
 
 

What is Sexual Assault of a Child in Texas?
What is Statutory Rape in Texas?

Texas law does not define Statutory Rape as a distinct crime. Instead, what some other state legal codes may refer to as Statutory Rape is simply rape in Texas – because persons under the age of 17 are legally incapable of consenting to sexual relations, sex with a minor is rape. Make no mistake – sex with a minor is a very serious crime in Texas, and conviction carries the potential for a long prison sentence, and the requirement of lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Sexual Assault of a Child, also known as sexual assault of a minor, is described under Texas Penal Code Chapter 22, Section 22.011. In general, Texas law defines Sexual Assault of a Child as causing penetration or contact between a child’s sex organs, anus or mouth, and that of another person or themselves, where a child is defined as any person under age 17, whether or not the victim consented or willingly participated.
The lesser charge of Indecency with a Child by Contact includes sexual touching without penetration.

 
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What is Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas?

Aggravated Sexual Assault is considered perhaps the severest of sex crimes, and carries the requirement that the perpetrator of a sexual assault acted not merely recklessly, but intentionally, and the existence of at least one of several aggravating factors, including:

The victim was under 14 years of age
  • The victim was disabled
  • The victim was elderly
  • A deadly weapon was involved
  • The crime resulted in serious injury
  • The crime involved threats of kidnapping or murder
  • The crime involved attempted murder
  • The use of drugs to incapacitate the victim
  • What are the Penalties for Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas?

     
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    Is Sexual Assault a Felony in Texas?
    What are the Penalties for Sexual Assault in Texas?

    Sexual assault charges in Texas are very serious, and can result in extremely harsh penalties in case of conviction or deferred adjudication, and you should choose a sexual assault defense lawyer very carefully.
    A person convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication for sexual assault in Texas may be required to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement for the rest of his or her life. This can make compliance extremely difficult, and carries with it the stigma of your name, address and other information being publicly available. It can also make it extremely difficult to find employment or a place to live.
    As a 2nd degree felony, a sexual assault conviction in the state of Texas carries potential penalties of up to $10,000 in fines, and up to 20 years of incarceration in state prison.

     
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    What are the Penalties for Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas?

    Aggravated Sexual Assault is a first degree felony in Texas – the second most serious category of crimes after capital felonies.
    A conviction for Aggravated Sexual Assault can result in (effectively) a life sentence. The range of sentencing is between 5 and 99 years, but can be enhanced to a 25 year minimum sentence under several circumstances, including:

    The victim was under 6 years of age
    or
  • The victim was under 14 years of age
    and
  • A deadly weapon was involved
  • The crime resulted in serious injury
  • The crime involved threats of kidnapping or murder
  • Drugs were used to facilitate the sexual assault
  • Such a conviction can also entail a mandatory life sentence without parole if the accused has a prior conviction involving sexual violence.
    A conviction for Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas can additionally result in a fine of up to $10,000.
    A conviction for Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas will require lifetime sex offender registration if and when the perpetrator is released from prison.

     
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    How will my Defense Lawyer Deal with Prosecutors?

    Sexual assault is a very serious crime which is and should be treated seriously by society, but in some cases a mere allegation, especially in the presence of emotional testimony from an alleged victim, can set in motion a process which is designed to protect victims and can lead to criminal charges.
    We rely on our police forces to protect the lives, rights and property of everyone in our communities, but the police are not perfect, and despite their best intentions, police do not always thoroughly investigate sexual assault allegations or question the credibility of an alleged victim.
    As soon as a skilled defense attorney such as Nathaniel Pitoniak gets involved with your case, he will immediately examine all aspects of the sexual assault allegation.
    This will include a frank assessment of the credibility of an alleged victim’s testimony, in order to uncover evidence of potential ulterior motives based on profit, child custody, family disputes, or emotional issues.
    In certain cases, such evidence can be presented to prosecutors before a trial begins. The prosecutors may be unaware of such evidence, or may not have had the opportunity to see some of the evidence presented in a particular way.
    In some cases, such a presentation will be enough to cause the prosecution to dismiss the charges altogether before the case ever goes to trial. This is typically the best possible outcome in a client’s case.
    As a former Felony Prosecutor & Chief Prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Nathaniel Pitoniak has a unique understanding of what motivates prosecutors.
    In cases where the prosecutors are unwilling to dismiss charges, there may be considerable room for a frank and beneficial negotiation before trial. Mr. Pitoniak has successfully negotiated such pre-trial deals on behalf of clients to reduce charges or avoid a guilty plea.
    There are, on the other hand, situations where no deal can be made that is acceptable to both sides, and the sexual assault case will then go to trial.
    In this situation, it is absolutely imperative that you have secured the representation of an aggressive and highly skilled defense lawyer who understands your particular situation, and knows how to demonstrate reasonable doubt in a courtroom in the face of very serious felony accusations.

     
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    How will my Attorney Defend Against Sexual Assault Charges?

    Allegations of sexual assault can arise from confusion on the part of the alleged victim as well as from false testimony.

    The Alleged Victim Was Coerced, or Has Ulterior Motives

    Mr. Pitoniak may question the credibility and motives of the alleged victim, to discover and demonstrate potential ulterior motives and establish reasonable doubt about sexual assault allegations.
    Such motives can include revenge, blackmail, or feelings of rejection on the part of a mentally unstable accuser.
    False sexual assault allegations are also sometimes motivated by family conflicts such as between step-parent and child, or in child custody disputes.
    In some cases, unfortunately especially with child sexual assault allegations, such allegations may be coerced by an estranged family member or another adult.

    There is Evidence that you are not guilty

    If you are able to provide a strong alibi or other evidence that strongly suggests that you were not with the victim at the time of the alleged assault or otherwise did not commit the alleged acts, Mr. Pitoniak may use that information to argue that you could not have committed the sexual assault in question.

    The Relations Were Consensual

    In cases not involving children, the question of whether the alleged victim consented to sexual contact may be a critical issue. The prosecution has the burden of proof to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the sexual contact was not consensual.
    Mr. Pitoniak may argue that the victim gave you consent for the alleged sexual contact, that there is evidence to support this, and / or that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate otherwise.

    Your Previous Statements are Inadmissible

    In the event that you spoke with police officers, the issue of whether your constitutional and statutory rights may have been violated may impact whether or not anything you may have said to the officers may be suppressed by the judge or admitted into evidence in trial.
    As aggressive and relentless as the police officers and prosecutors assigned to your case may seem to be, Mr. Pitoniak will be equally aggressive and even more relentless in investigating and discovering any potential violations of your rights, and in protecting your rights to the fullest possible extent of the law.

     
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    Why do I Need a Sexual Assault Defense Attorney?

    Simply put, sexual assault charges can have devastating consequences. If you are facing such charges, your freedom is at stake, and you need a skilled attorney who understands your situation, right away.
    If you are in Harris County or surrounding counties such as Fort Bend, Montgomery, or Galveston County and you have been charged with sexual assault, you will need an experienced and successful criminal defense lawyer like Nathaniel Pitoniak to provide you with legal advice and representation.
    As a former Harris County Chief Prosecutor with more than ten years in practice, Mr. Pitoniak has unique skills that will enable him to create a strategy tailored to your situation.
    Mr. Pitoniak believes strongly in the American criminal justice system, and that everyone who is charged with a crime deserves a vigorous defense.
    For this reason, Mr. Pitoniak believes in putting all his skill, his experience, his heart and his energy into providing the strongest possible defense to each one of his clients.

     
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    Call Houston criminal defense lawyer Nathaniel Pitoniak at (832) 730-2697 for a free case evaluation
    *Past results are not a guarantee of future results. Every case is different.