Situations involving sexual contact with a person under the age of 17 are generally considered criminal acts. Because minors are considered incapable of consenting to sexual relations with an adult, the question of consent is rarely an issue with these charges.
While prosecutors typically treat these cases as if they were cut and dried, there are several defenses that must be considered. With the guidance of an experienced sex offense attorney at Barbieri Law Firm, P.C., you can fight back against these allegations. Let a Frisco sex with a minor lawyer help you review the relevant legal statutes and the facts of your case.
Criminal Offenses Related to Sex with a Minor
There are multiple criminal offenses in Texas that relate to sexual contact with a person under the age of 17. While this is often referred to as statutory rape, the state does not recognize a criminal offense by this name. Instead, a few criminal charges exist to cover these acts. Each of these crimes is a felony, and the penalties that come with a conviction are significant. A dedicated Frisco attorney can help build a defense against any charge based on accusations of sex with a minor.
Indecency with a child is one of the lower-level offenses related to sex with a minor. This criminal offense involves sexual acts that do not include penetration. This is a felony in the second degree, meaning it can carry between two and 20 years behind bars as well as a maximum fine of $10,000.
Sexual assault of a child is a more serious offense than indecency. This charge involves sexual penetration with a minor and carries much steeper penalties. The highest tier of offense is aggravated sexual assault of a child, which requires the use of force or coercion.
Romeo and Juliet Laws in Frisco
There are some important exceptions to the laws addressing sex with a minor. These are commonly referred to as “Romeo and Juliet” laws, which legalize certain consensual sex acts involving a minor depending on the difference in age of the two parties.
These laws do not apply to minors aged 13 or younger. This means any sexual act—regardless of the circumstances—with anyone that age or younger is a crime. The same is not true for individuals aged between 14 and 17.
There is a three-year window that excuses sexual encounters with minors in specific situations. This exception applies to anyone who reaches the age of 14 until they are old enough to consent. For example, a consensual sexual encounter between a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old is covered by the law. The same is not the case when it involves someone that is 14 and another person that is 20.
While it is informally known as the “Romeo and Juliet” law, it is legally referred to as an affirmative defense. In other words, a Frisco lawyer can help a person charged with a sex offense with a minor refute the claim by proving their proximity in age makes the sexual act legal.
Get in Touch with a Frisco Sex with a Minor Attorney Now
If you are facing allegations of sex with a minor, your defense should be your top priority. A conviction for this crime could lead to more than a life-long stigma; you could also face incarceration and a mandatory sex offender registration.