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What are Sex Crimes in San Antonio, Texas?

Sex crimes in San Antonio, Texas, are criminal offenses of sexual nature. They are most commonly associated with illicit or coercive sexual conduct against another person. Sexual assault, public indecency, and child pornography production are examples of sex crimes in this jurisdiction.

Because of the heinous and sometimes violent nature of many sex crimes, prosecutors in San Antonio and throughout Texas pursue convictions in sex crime cases more aggressively than in other types of criminal cases. As a result, if a person is convicted of a sex crime in this city, they can expect harsh sanctions.

What are the Types of Sex Crimes in San Antonio, Texas?

Chapter 21 of the Texas Penal Code lists various sex crimes in San Antonio, Texas. Some of them include:

  • Sexual assault: This sex crime refers to a wide range of situations, the majority of which include the accused allegedly causing penetration by a sexual organ without the victim's valid consent. It also covers any sexual conduct with a child under 17 unless the perpetrator is three years older or less. Sexual assault is the term that the judicial system commonly uses to refer to rape in San Antonio and throughout Texas. It is deemed a second-degree felony. 
  • Online solicitation of a minor: This sex crime involves an adult engaging in sexually explicit behavior with a child that is 14 or younger. The offense is a third-degree felony unless the accused is aware that the victim is under the age of 14, in which case it is a second-degree felony. 
  • Indecency with a child: This crime involves participating in any sexual misconduct with a child aged 17 or below. This violation may include forcing the minor to engage in sexual activity or exposing the child to sexual conduct. The sex offense is classified as a third-degree felony. 
  • Aggravated sexual assault: This type of sexual assault is charged when a victim suffered severe bodily harm, a lethal weapon was used, or the perpetrator threatened to force the victim to participate in sex trafficking. An offense may also be considered aggravated sexual assault if a date rape drug, such as GHB, Rohypnol, or Ketamine, was administered. This offense is a first-degree felony.

Other sexual offenses under Texas Law include:

Sex Crime Penalties

The sanctions for a sex crime conviction depend on the nature of the incident, the victim's age, and whether the violation involved any violence. Overall, sex crimes involving children typically carry the highest sanctions. Sexual offenses against minors in San Antonio are treated with increasing severity according to the child's maturity level and age. By this scheme, the younger the child is when the offense occurs, the more severe the crime.

The following punishments may be imposed for sex offenses:

  • A first-degree felony carries a penalty of 5 to 99 years in prison or life in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • A second-degree felony carries a sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • A third-degree felony is punishable by incarceration of 2 to 10 years and a $10,000 fine
  • State Jail Felony is punishable by imprisonment for 180 days to 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
  • Class A Misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000
  •  Class B Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.

In addition to these penalties, most sex crimes in San Antonio require convicted individuals to register as sex offenders, often for life. Registering as a sex offender has severe consequences for those who do so. Aside from the fact that the public will have access to a registrant's addresses, as well as details about their crime, registrants would face difficulties obtaining accommodation and employment. Persecution and animosity from members of the community are also common for sex offenders. Finally, the necessity to register as a sex offender is treated so seriously that refusal to register or update one's registry is considered a felony-level offense. Defaulting sex offenders will undoubtedly face jail time as well as an extended reporting term for sex offender registration.

Despite the fact that many sex offenses are punished under state law, rape is the only offense captured under the crime index in the Texas Uniform Crime Reporting(UCR) program. As part of the program, the Texas Department of Public Safety(DPS) sets standards and guidelines on data collection surrounding events involving sexual assault offenses. According to the 2019 UCR report, the San Antonio Police Department(SAPD) and other relevant local law enforcement authorities in the city reported 1,630 cases of sexual assault. In the years that followed, there was a decline in the number of cases that were reported. They recorded 1,164 cases in 2020 and 877 cases in 2021.

What Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in San Antonio, Texas? 

Various sex crimes convictions in San Antonio require sex offender registration. Even if the offender committed a crime in another jurisdiction outside of Texas that had comparable features to a sex offense that requires sex offender registration in Texas, the criminal would be obligated to register as a sex offender in San Antonio, Texas as well.

Convicted sex offenders must register as sex offenders for at least ten years after their sentence is completed. In most cases, they are obliged to report to the sex offender register for the rest of their lives. The following sex offenses necessitate lifetime registration:

  • Continuous sexual abuse of a minor
  • Certain forms of indecency with a minor
  • Sexual assault
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Incest
  • Kidnapping with the intent to conduct a sex crime against the victim
  • Burglary or robbery (if the underlying intention was to commit one of the above sex crimes)
  • Child pornography production, possession, or dissemination
  • Human trafficking for sexual exploitation
  • Compelling child prostitution.

The following sex crimes necessitate a 10-year sex offender registration:

  • Indecent exposure involving a minor (first offense)
  • Conspiracy or attempt to perpetrate a reportable sex crime
  • Online solicitation of a minor
  • A second conviction for indecent exposure.

Unless the court imposes it, some sex crime convictions do not mandate sex offender registration, such as:

  • Obscenity
  • The first conviction for indecent exposure
  • Lewd photography or videography.

The sex offender registration program was established to safeguard citizens from sexual predators by providing information on registered sex offenders in their area who may pose a threat to them. The Texas sex offender register, which the Texas Department of Public Safety manages, is then used to convey the essential information to members of the general public. The register allows users to search for sex offenders by name and location, allowing them to identify those who live and work in their city. San Antonio, a part of Bexar County, does not have its own public sex offender registry. All sex-offender information regarding every city in Texas is maintained on the state registry.

What is a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney?

A Sex crimes defense attorney is a lawyer whose job is to help a sex crime defendant to avoid conviction and obtain an acquittal, especially if they have been wrongfully charged or have suffered injustice from the justice system. 

The sex crimes lawyer has the resources to perform multiple vital services that help defendants navigate their sex crime case with increased confidence. Among these essential services are assisting the defendant in navigating the criminal justice system, managing their procedural requirements, and ensuring that all court paperwork is submitted on time and appropriately. They also assist their clients in understanding the court processes and preparing them for appearances.

Finally, when it comes to actual defense, the sex crime attorney will seek discrepancies in the prosecution's case, such as unreliable witness testimony, or contradictory assertions from the alleged victim. The lawyer would then thoroughly investigate all of these facts in order to identify the best available defense.

How does a Sex Crime Defense Attorney Work?

A sex crimes defense attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of any sex crime case in San Antonio. Based on the circumstances surrounding the case, the lawyer will fiercely defend the accused from the time the charge is made until the trial. The most prevalent sex offense defense is pointing out the prosecution's inability to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. In such cases, the sex crimes lawyer can raise the following defenses and provide corroborating testimony to show that:

  • The accused was not present at the time of the alleged incident and had an alibi for the time the offense occurred.
  • The victim confused the accused for the actual perpetrator of the crime.

Another legal defense alternative that a sex crimes attorney may employ is an affirmative defense strategy. In this case, the defendant confesses to perpetuating the alleged conduct but claims that it should not be considered a criminal offense due to certain circumstances. By doing this, the defendant does not admit guilt to a sex crime but rather directs the court's attention to the actual nature of the sex act. This implies that the defendant and the defense attorney must present proof or explain why the act should not be deemed criminal.

Examples of such defenses that may be asserted include:

  • The accused was married to the claimant  at the time of the alleged crime
  • The sexual act was performed with the alleged victim's consent
  • The defendant did not use force or threats, nor did they put the victim under duress when perpetrating the act. 

It is important to note that there are various instances in which sexual activity with minors may not be deemed unlawful. Texas law provides various exemptions that provide legitimate defense options in sex crime cases involving minors:

  • The Romeo and Juliet Exemption: If the defendant and the alleged victim are no more than three years apart in age, and the victim who consented to the act and is between the ages of 14 and 17, this exemption might be invoked as a strong defense. The exemption, named after young lovers in a classic play, prevents minors who have consensual sexual relations with someone who is nearly their age from being prosecuted.
  • Marriage Exemption: This exemption applies when an adult defendant is married to a minor and, as a result, cannot be penalized for having sexual relations with the minor, who is also their spouse. However, this defense will not protect a defendant if the sexual act was coerced.
  • Mistaken Age: This exemption may apply if the accused did not know the victim's age and believed the victim was over the consent age. According to Texas law, the consenting age must be at least 17 years old. Individuals under the age of 17 are not considered capable of making an informed decision to consent legally.