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What are Sex Crimes in Austin, Texas?

Sex crimes in Austin are criminal offenses that involve sexual conduct or acts against another person without their consent. These types of offenses include sexual abuse, rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure, child pornography, and so on. Unlike other crimes, an offense is considered a sex crime in Austin if:

  • It is a violent sexual act
  • It occurs without the participant’s consent
  • It involves participant’s, such as minors, who are legally incapable of consenting.

For instance, in the 2019 Austin crimes report, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported five rape cases. Meanwhile, the 2018 crimes report documented 11 rape cases.

What are the Types of Sex Crimes in Austin?

There are over ten types of sex crimes in Austin. Under the Texas Penal Code Chapter 21, below are some of the offenses categorized as sex crimes in Austin.

  • Public lewdness: According to sec 21.07, public lewdness refers to the intentional public engagement in sexual intercourse or contact with a person or animal. It is also the reckless act of not considering whether or not those present will be offended by the act. Under Texas law,  public lewdness is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. Typically, a Class A misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail and up to a $4,000 fine. 
  • Indecency with a child: Sec 21.11 describes this type of offense as any act done intentionally to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of a child below 17 years of age. This may involve any touching by a person or touching of any part of the body of a child through clothing, of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals. In a situation whereby it is touching by a person, the offense is a second-degree felony. Meanwhile, the touching of any part of a child's body is a third-degree felony. A second-degree felony carries up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. On the other hand, a third-degree felony carries two to ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Indecent exposure: Indecent exposure, according to sec 21.18, is the display of an individual’s anus or any other part of their genitals with the aim of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of another individual. Also, it includes not taking into consideration whether or not those in witness will be offended or not. In Austin, indecent exposure is considered a Class B misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum of $2,000.
  • Bestiality: Bestiality is when an individual intentionally initiates contact between their mouth, anus, or genitals and the anus, mouth, or genitals of an animal. It also involves touching the anus or genitals of an animal in ways that are considered unlawful or unacceptable. In addition to sec 21.09, bestiality includes causing an animal to contact the seminal fluid of an individual. A bestiality offense is a state jail felony punishable by incarceration for 180 days to two years in state jail and up to $10,000 in fines. However, if the act takes place in the presence of a child and results in serious bodily injury or death of the animal, such an offender may be charged with a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Improper relationship between educator and student: Sec 21.12 describes the offense as the sexual contact between an educator, and a student enrolled in the school. This type of sex crime is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Invasive visual recording: Sec 21.15 describes the offense as the intentional act of recording or photographing sexual acts or intimate parts of an individual without their consent and to promote it. Under this section, the offense is considered a state jail felony. The offense carries 180 days to two years in state jail and a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
  • Voyeurism: In line with sec 21.17, a voyeurism offense involves the intentional act of observing another person in their dwelling or structure with the aim to arouse or gratify sexual desire. Here, the victim expects a reasonable amount of privacy. Under Texas law, voyeurism is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines. However, it is a Class B misdemeanor if the accused is a previous offender of the same crime. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable with up to 180 days in jail and a maximum of $2,000 in fines. In addition, a voyeurism offense becomes a state jail felony if the victim is a minor below the age of 14. A state jail felony carries 180 days to two years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

In addition, an offender may register as a sex offender in Austin based on the type of sex crime committed. 

What Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in Austin?

Austin has several crimes that require sex offender registration. Most times, the type of crime determines the length of the registration. Some sex crimes require registration for ten years or a lifetime.

Ten-year Sex Offender Registration

A sex offender, regardless of age, must register for ten years if the convicted sex offense includes any of the following:

  • Indecent exposure involving a child
  • Prostitution (if the victim is below 18 years of age)
  • Bestiality
  • Indecent exposure involving an adult (second offense)
  • Online solicitation of a minor
  • Conspiracy and attempt to commit a registrable sex crime.

Lifetime Sex Offender Registration

Meanwhile, sex crimes offender may register for a lifetime if their conviction consists of any of the following: 

  • Repeated sexual abuse of a child
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Burglary (if the habitation is for a young child or children with the intent to commit continuous sexual abuse, indecency with a child, bestiality, sexual assault, kidnapping with intent to sexually abuse, and more)
  • Indecency with a child by contact
  • Indecency with a child by exposure
  • Possession or promotion of child pornography
  • Trafficking of people
  • Obscenity
  • Prohibited sexual conduct.

In line with Chapter 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program mandates law enforcement authorities to register and provide public access to sex offender information. Sex offenders must provide local law enforcement authorities with relevant information such as full name and address, photograph, and type of offense. Registered sex offenders in Austin must periodically update their bio-data with the local enforcement authorities.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) maintains and provides statewide sex offender information through the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry. Interested individuals can access the following sex offender information in Austin: sex offender's full names (and aliases if known), address, booking photograph, date of birth, type of offense, and so on. Record seekers can also obtain sex offender information in Austin Texas by searching the registered sex offender database.

What is a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney?

A sex crimes defense attorney is a legal representative for individuals accused of committing sex crimes. The sex crimes lawyer is responsible for providing counsel during a case. Examples of cases a sex crime attorney may oversee include but are not limited to sexual assault, internet sex crimes, child abuse, rape, and child trafficking. In Austin, accused individuals may require the service of an expert sex crimes lawyer due to the strict penalties associated with sex crimes.

A sex crime defense lawyer, unlike other types of lawyers, is heavily involved in any sex crime case. The sex crime attorney provides important services to the defendant due to the complicating nature of the sex crimes laws in Austin. Some of these services include:

  • Managing all requirements needed for the case
  • Preparing the defendant for court appearances
  • Assisting the defendant to navigate the court system
  • Conducting a private investigation on the case.

How does a Sex Crime Defense Attorney Work?

A sex crime defense attorney may adopt several strategies to prove the innocence of the accused at different stages of the case. Most times, the strategy to use is heavily dependent on the peculiarity of the case. Below are some of the strategies available to a sex defense attorney:

  • Consent: Most sex crime cases are based on a lack of consent. Therefore, a sex crime attorney needs to build a credible case that demonstrates the accuser’s consent. In line with Texas law, individuals under 18 years of age are not of legal age to consent. As such, this type of strategy is only applicable to cases where the accuser is legally able to consent. 
  • False Accusation: The false accusation strategy is another strategy available to a sex crime defense lawyer. In this case, the defense attorney must refute the accusations by providing a witness, evidence, or argument that proves the accused innocence beyond doubt. 
  • Mistake in Age: Another way an attorney can work out a defense for an accused is to prove the mistake in age. This may be a mistake in the age of the accused or accuser. For instance, if the accuser presented themselves to be older. On the other hand, if the accused is not more than three years older than the accuser (sex crime involving a minor), the sex crime attorney can file a defense as in the case of Romeo and Juliet under the Texas Penal Code. 
  • Mistake in Identity: The sex crime defense lawyer must prove the accused was wrongly identified as the perpetrator of the crime. Although this type of strategy is dependent on how the accused was first identified. For instance, the accused in sexual crime cases are commonly identified by DNA. Therefore, the defense attorney must provide evidence contrary to those obtained at the crime scene.