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What is Statutory Rape Law and Punishments in Texas?

The minimum age of consent to willfully engage in sexual activities is the underlying criteria to define Statutory Rape. Across the U.S., it varies from 16 years to 18 years. As per U.S law, all adults aged above 18 years are strictly prohibited from having any form of sexual contact with minors i.e., individuals below the age of consent.

A violation is deemed as criminal sexual assault and sexual penetration of a minor is classified as the heinous crime of Statutory Rape. While many states have legitimized minors to have sexual contact with individuals who are not older than a prescribed age difference with the said minor through their close-in-age exemption or Romeo Juliet Laws, some states may convict both participating minors under the statutes of statutory rape.

Texas Statutory Rape Law

In common law, statutory rape is different from rape as it does not necessitate evidence to prove the use of force, abuse of authority or prohibited means to commit the crime. The basis of this is the legal maxim that minors are ineligible to give consent for sexual contact; hence the provision of consent as a defense for the accused is immaterial.

Moreover, in most legislation, even strict liability is applicable to statutory rape i.e. ignorance of the law or unawareness of the status of the victim as a minor has no legal standing as a reason to exempt the accused from the charges.

In codified law, unlike common law, some states also recognize a narrow window of certain specific instances of forced sexual penetration as Statutory Rape. Federal, as well as State laws, bear provisions explaining the prohibitions, the age of consent, the types of offenses identified as statutory rape, exceptions to definitions, procedures of trial and exceptions to procedures and the corresponding penalties and punishments as prescribed by law.

 Statutory Rape Law Texas

The State of Texas specifies the age of consent as 17 years in Texas Code Ann. §22.011(a) & (c). Sexual conduct with anyone under this age is forbidden unless the minor is aged between 14-17 years and the other participant is a spouse in a legitimate marriage or he/she is not more than three years older than the minor and has no previous record as a sex offender. This close in age exemption is notified in Texas Code Ann. §22.011(e).

It is pertinent to note that Texas allows the marriage of minors 14 years or older subject to parental consent of the legitimate guardians of the minor. Furthermore, if the victim aged 14-17 years alleges rape, the State of Texas under Texas Code Ann. §22.011(e)(1) recognizes a legitimate marriage with the defendant as an affirmative defense against rape and a reason for dismissal of petition towards statutory rape.

The Statutory Rape may qualify as a Sexual Assault under Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.011 if the sexual act with the minor involves penetration of anus, mouth and sexual organ. It may be cited as a 2nd degree felony with a prescribed conviction of 2-20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 or a 1st degree felony if the defendant was prohibited from marriage with the victim and yet committed the act, resulting in a conviction of 5-99 years and a fine which cannot exceed $10,000.

texas Rape Laws

It may also qualify as an Aggravated Sexual assault under Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.021 wherein, sexual penetration of the minor is achieved by the use of coercion, chemicals or drugs that make the victim vulnerable to assault or under 14 years of age. This is necessarily a 1st-degree felony wherein the minimum sentence of 5 years can be raised to at least 25 years and the maximum period of imprisonment remains to be 99 years. The accompanying fine on the convicted can be as high as $10,000.

Texas Sex Offender Search

The state of Texas operates an online directory for searching people who have violated Texas statutory rape laws. So, if you want to find out if a person is a registered Texas sex offender, you can use the state's online directory. You can also use a public records search directory, like GoLookUp, to find out more about Texas sex offenders. The website offers several different ways to find out who has violated Texas statutory rape laws, with the next two being the main methods of search:

1. Name-based search – enter a name into the directory, and it will begin to scan public records. When the search is complete, you will get a report about the person in question that includes, among other information, whether they are registered sex offenders.

2. Zipcode sex offender search – enter a Texas zip code into the directory; the search engine will scan public records about the said zip code, and it will provide you with a report about the sex offenders who live in that area. The report will reveal the names of the sex offenders, their mugshots, address, contact information, the sex offenses they committed, and additional information.