The Difference Between Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault

Houston aggravated sexual assault defense lawyer

Every year, thousands of Americans are accused of sex crimes. In many cases, these acts can be exaggerated or even fabricated. Once accused of a sex crime, one faces an uphill battle. A sex crime conviction can come with substantial jail time, severe fines, job termination, and a negative reputation in the community for the rest of one’s life.

That said, some sex crimes come with even greater consequences than others. If you have been accused of a sex crime, it is important to understand the legal, financial, and occupational ramifications of a guilty conviction. Below we will discuss the differences between a sexual assault charge and an aggravated sexual assault charge in the state of Texas

Sexual Assault Under Texas Law

According to the Texas Penal Code, sexual assault is legally described as an act in which a person intentionally penetrates someone’s mouth, anus, or sexual organs without proper consent. The inability to grant proper consent can legally mean a number of things, including: having sex with a person 17 years of age or younger, when the victim is unconscious and thus unable to grant consent, or when the alleged rapist utilized the power of their position (occupational hierarchy, police officer, etc.) to engage in sexual misconduct.

A sexual assault conviction can come with massive, lifelong implications. A sexual assault charge is a second degree felony in the state of Texas and carries a two year minimum prison sentence (although those convicted could face up to twenty years in prison), a fine of up to $10,000, as well as forced lifelong registration as a sex offender.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Here in the state of Texas, an aggravated sexual assault conviction can come with an even more severe legal punishment. According to the Texas Penal Code, an aggravated sexual assault is defined as when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes or threatens harm to another person through a sexual attack, without consent. What makes an aggravated assault more serious is the presence of an aggravating factor.

Aggravating factors include sexual actions with a youth under the age of 14, causing bodily harm or fatal injuries to the victim, causing the victim to fear for their life, the use of drugs to incapacitate the victim, or the presence of an additional perpetrator.

Unlike a sexual assault conviction, which carries a second degree felony, an aggravated assault conviction comes with a first degree felony charge. This means that the convicted party would face increased prison time (including a minimum sentence of 25 years if the victim is 14 years of age or younger), as well as more substantial monetary fines.

Contact a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

In the state of Texas, sex crimes are harshly punished. If you have been accused of sexual assault or any other sexual offenses, it is critically important to work with a knowledgeable defense lawyer. Attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak has years of experience representing those accused of criminal acts in the state of Texas. To set up a free consultation with a skilled and dedicated Harris County criminal defense attorney, contact us today at 823-315-6283.


The Impact of a Sexual Assault Conviction

In the state of Texas and throughout the United States, sexual assault is taken very seriously. In addition to criminal charges, an alleged rapist will be tried in the court of public opinion, and their career, relationships, and personal reputation may be harmed, regardless of whether they are found guilty in a court of law. If you are falsely accused of a sex crime, finding qualified legal representation is crucial for protecting your freedom and your reputation.

Implications of a Sexual Assault Accusation

In Texas, sexual assault occurs when a person intentionally penetrates someone’s mouth, anus, or sexual organs without that person’s consent, or when they have sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 17. Texas law specifies that lack of consent occurs when:

  • The alleged rapist uses violence or physical force.
  • The alleged rapist threatens to harm the alleged victim or any other person.
  • The alleged victim has not provided consent and is unconscious or unable to resist.
  • The alleged victim has a mental disease or disability that makes them incapable of providing consent.
  • The alleged victim has not provided consent and is unaware that intercourse is occurring.
  • The alleged rapist intentionally caused the alleged victim to become impaired through the administration of an intoxicating substance.
  • The alleged rapist is a public servant (such as a police officer) who coerced the alleged victim into submitting to sexual intercourse.
  • The alleged rapist is a medical care provider (such as a doctor or nurse), mental health care provider (such as a counselor, therapist, or social worker), or member of the clergy who exploited the alleged victim’s emotional dependency on them to cause them to submit to sexual intercourse.
  • The alleged rapist is an employee of a facility providing care to the elderly, people with disabilities, or terminally ill patients, and the alleged victim is a resident of that facility.

Sexual assault is a second degree felony in Texas, and it carries a minimum prison sentence of two years and a maximum sentence of 20 years, as well as a maximum fine of $10,000. In addition, a person convicted of sexual assault will be forced to register as a sexual offender for the rest of their life.

Regardless of the circumstances of the case, one thing is clear: for those accused of sexual assault, their life can be drastically altered. Both jail time and sex offender registration can be incredibly damaging to a person’s future job prospects, housing opportunities, and relationships with their family and friends. In addition to potential jail time, a person convicted of felony sexual assault may be forced to pay restitution payments to the alleged victim or their family. The severe consequences that come with a sexual assault conviction demonstrate the critical importance of hiring a qualified criminal defense attorney.

Contact a Houston Sex Crime Defense Lawyer

If you have been falsely accused of a sexual crime, finding a defense lawyer you can trust is essential in helping you avoid the monumental implications of a sexual assault conviction. Attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak has years of experience defending those wrongly accused of criminal acts, including sexual assault. For additional information on how to approach an accusation of sexual assault, contact a proven Harris County criminal defense attorney. To set up a free consultation, call us today at 832-315-6283.