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Denton, TX 76209

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Denton Statutory Rape Defense Attorneys

Statutory Rape | Marsala Law Group

A Legal Team that Cares in Denton County

In Texas, sexual assault of a child is a serious offense that carries heavy punishments.

The American criminal justice system states that every person is “innocent until proven guilty.” However, for charges of statutory rape and sexual assault of a child, the opposite often seems to be the case. The accusations alone lead people to believe that the accused actually committed the alleged offense. Also, the legal process for disputing statutory rape is a nightmare for defendants, their families, and their friends, which makes a person feel that there is no hope.

At Marsala Law Group, we know that there are two sides to every story and that an accusation does not equate to guilt. That is why we scour every detail to develop and present compelling arguments in statutory rape cases. Our attorneys have extensive experience and know how effectively fight charges.

For the focused legal representation you need in Denton, call us at 940-386-6848 or contact us online today.

What Is Statutory Rape?

As defined in Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code, statutory rape is a type of sexual assault that occurs between an adult and a victim under the age of 17 who is not the spouse of the defendant.

Sexual assault is defined as:

  • Inappropriate sexual contact,
  • Penetration of the anus, sex organ, or mouth of a child, or
  • Contact of a child’s sex organ, anus, or mouth with the sex organ, anus or mouth of another

Statutory rape differs from child molestation and aggravated sexual assault of a child in that the act would not have been a crime had both parties been above the age of consent.

Statutory rape laws in Texas are gender-neutral. Thus it does not matter what gender the adult or minor are.

The penalties for being convicted of this second-degree felony offense include 2 to 20 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine.

What is the Age of Consent in Texas?

In Texas, the legal age at which a person can consent to sexual activity or contact is 17. Anyone who engages in a sex act with someone age 16 or younger, regardless of whether or not the act is consensual, can be charged with statutory rape.

Romeo and Juliet Laws

Many states have enacted certain provisions known as “Romeo and Juliet laws” to reduce or eliminate some instances of alleged statutory rape. Texas is one such state. Romeo and Juliet Law in Texas provides protection to teens who have a sexual relationship with someone who is technically under the age of consent, but where there is a slight age difference.

If all of the following statements are true, an individual in Texas cannot be convicted of statutory rape and will not be required to register as a sex offender for having sex with a minor:

  • The defendant is less than 3 years older than the victim.
  • The victim was at least 14 years of age when the sexual relationship began.
  • The defendant was not a registered sex offender at the time of the alleged act.
  • The sexual act was consensual.

Other Defenses for Statutory Rape

If an individual does not qualify for a defense under Texas’ Romeo and Juliet laws, they must be prepared to aggressively defend their case. The fact that the relationship was consensual or that the defendant was unaware of the victim’s age is not a valid legal defense in statutory rape cases.

That being said, there are certain defenses and other strategies that an experienced attorney can use to reduce or dismiss charges.

Possible defenses include:

  • Marriage: Because statutory rape charges have a consensual component, an exception is made for married couples. If an individual under 17 years of age is the spouse of the defendant, then the “age of consent” rule is waived, and sexual assault charges cannot be filed.
  • Medical: According to Texas Law, “It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(2) that the conduct consisted of medical care for the child and did not include any contact between the anus or sexual organ of the child and the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of the actor or a third party.”
  • Evidence: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that statutory rape occurred. A skilled defense lawyer can cast on the victim’s testimony by investigating all the facts surrounding the alleged incident, questioning evidence, and identifying the victim’s ulterior motives, such as looking for a settlement payment or getting revenge.
  • Stress: Using the defense that the defendant committed the criminal act under great duress or other mitigating circumstance is not likely to get statutory rape charges dropped completely; however, it may help reduce the sentence.

What To Do If You’ve Been Charged with Statutory Rape of a Minor?

If you have been charged with statutory rape in Denton it’s imperative to contact a lawyer right away. Our attorneys, Dominick Marsala and Jenna Magaña, have over 20 years of combined experience and have effectively helped clients in Denton County and the surrounding areas.

To get started on your case, call us at 940-386-6848 or submit an online contact form today.

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To speak with a member of our team about your circumstances, call 940-386-6848 or submit an online contact form.
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