Improper Student-Teacher Relationships
If you are accused of having an improper relationship with a student, then your career and future is at stake. Our Denton County defense attorneys can help you.
When a Texas teacher or educator is found of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student (including online solicitation), the embarrassment and punishments may (and probably will) be accompanied by disciplinary actions on behalf of the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC), which could include the revocation of their teacher’s license.
If you or a person you know is being investigated (or charged with) for an improper relationship with a student, then you need to find a professional criminal defense attorney immediately. At Marsala Law Group, our Denton sex crime lawyers will assess your situation and find a strategy to obtain the best possible results for maintaining your freedom.
Texas seems to have a severe problem with sex crimes involving improper relationships between educators and students. This has been attributed to the ease of communication between teachers and students on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. People have a tendency to think that whatever is said online is separate and isolated from real life, but that is certainly not the case.
Unfortunately, cases often arise in which the student may falsely accuse a teacher of school official of a sexual encounter or behavior, with the intention of perhaps receiving a better grade, receiving a settlement payment, or getting social media fame/attention. This is why it is important to have an experienced attorney who knows deception when they see it, and can discern when a false or twisted allegation is being made, and then create a strategic defense in order to ensure that the teacher does not suffer the penalties of an improper relationship with a student.
Sec. 21.12 of the Texas Penal Code states that any employee of a public or private academic institution from elementary through high school has committed a sex crime if they engage in “sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse” with:
- A person enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school at which the employee works
- A person enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school in the same school district as the school at which the employee works, or
- A student participant in an educational activity that is sponsored by a school district or a public or private primary or secondary school.
These rules apply to anyone employed by the academic institution, including janitors, coaches, directors, principals, administrators, counselors and superintendents.
In the state of Texas, a criminal offense under this section of law is counted as a second-degree felony.
Defending a Charge of an Improper Teacher / Student Relationship
In order for a person to be successfully convicted of a sex crime of improper sexual relations with a student, the prosecution must “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the academic employee did in fact engage, with criminal intent, in sexual behavior with the student. The most common defense is to examine and question any evidence that the student may have an ulterior motive for making an exaggerated or entirely false accusation.
Texas statute 21.12 gives two defenses: A sexual offense has not occurred if the relationship was between two consenting adults and one of the following statements holds true:
- The defendant was the spouse of the person enrolled at the school.
- The defendant was less than three years older than the enrolled student and they had a preexisting relationship before the defendant worked at the school or in the district.
There are other defenses, though it is highly encouraged that you consult an experienced criminal attorney for specifics, as no two cases are the same, and each must be handled carefully – it is your future on the line, so don’t take un-needed risks.