Killeen Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
Smart defense against felony sexual assault, rape and sex offender charges in Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and throughout Central Texas
Of all the criminal accusations you can possibly face, sex crimes are some of the most damaging and shaming. Allegations of a sex crime can devastate your reputation, your relationships and every aspect of your professional and personal life. The stigmatization of sex offenses can make you feel abandoned by your friends and family, regardless of the truth behind the charges against you.
The Killeen criminal defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm have decades of combined experience protecting clients against a variety of sex crime charges and we can do the same for you. We gather evidence, investigate the circumstances of the allegations against you and launch a smart and strategic defense on your behalf.
The first step toward a successful outcome for your case is understanding the charges against you.
How are sex offenses defined under Texas state law?
Sex offenses are listed under state penal code Title 5, Chapter 21. Both state and federal law define what constitutes a sex crime, but generally these actions include sexual misconduct, sexual assault or sexual activity with a child.
Sex offenses on the book here in our state include:
- Aggravated promotion of prostitution
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Improper contact
- Indecent assault
- Indecent exposure
- Invasive visual recording
- Public lewdness
- “Revenge porn”
- Sex trafficking
- Sexual assault
What is the difference between “rape” and sexual assault in Texas?
In Texas, there is no such thing as a “rape” charge; there is only sexual assault. Semantics aside, however, they mean virtually the same thing. Under Sec. 22.011, a person can be charged with sexual assault if:
- the person intentionally or knowingly:
- causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person's consent;
- causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person's consent; or
- causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person's consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
- regardless of whether the person knows the age of the child at the time of the offense, the person intentionally or knowingly:
- causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means;
- causes the penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor;
- causes the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
- causes the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
- causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor.
What makes sex assault charges “aggravated”?
When you see the word “aggravated” in front of sex assault or assault charges, you’ll likely face much harsher penalties than for general charges. Aggravated means that other factors were involved in the offense that made it a higher-level crime. Examples of aggravated sexual assault include:
- Using a date rape drug to commit the assault
- Sexually assaulting a person who is under the age of 14, disabled or elderly
- If the victim suffered or was threatened by serious injury
- If the sexual assault occurred during the commission of another crime
A non-aggravated sexual assault is a second-degree felony. However, an aggravated sexual assault charge makes it a first-degree felony, which comes with penalties of 5 to 99 years in prison. With tough sentences, you need a tough defense lawyer. Mary Beth Harrell will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
What are the penalties for felony sex crimes and offenses?
Most sex crimes in Texas are felonies. Felony sex crimes carry the following penalties:
- State jail felony convictions may result in 180 days to two years in state jail and fines up to $10,000
- Third-degree felony convictions may result in 2 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
- Second-degree felony convictions may result in 2 to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
- First-degree felony convictions may result in 5 to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
Anyone convicted of a sex crime is required to register as a sex offender. In addition to fines, penalties, and registrations; anyone convicted of a sex crime may have difficulty finding a place to live, and a place to work. They will likely also suffer the loss of friends and the love of family members.
Will I have to register as a sex offender in Texas?
Yes. If you’re convicted of a covered sex crime, you must register with local law enforcement via the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program. This database collects and stores information about sex offenders and makes it accessible to the general public. Inclusion on this list can negatively affect your life in a variety of ways, including making it difficult to find a job, a place to live and a place to work – not to mention a shattered reputation.
Some sex crime offenses may result in mandatory registration as a sex offender for life. These offenses, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, include:
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Compelling prostitution of a minor
- Indecency with a child by contact
- Indecency with a child by exposure
- Sexual assault
- Sexual performance by a child
This is why it’s so important to have a smart, tough defense attorney on your side – to avoid conviction and mandatory sex offender registration.
How soon do you have to register as a sex offender in Central Texas?
If the sex crime conviction is deemed a “reportable conviction or adjudication,” a person must register as a sex offender within seven days of his or her “arrival in the municipality or county, or the first date the local law enforcement authority of the municipality or county by policy allows the person to register or verify registration, as applicable.”
How long do you have to stay on the sex offender registry?
Depending on the conviction, you may have to register as a sex offender for life, or for 10 years.
What are the penalties for failing to register as a sex offender in Central Texas?
Failure to register as a sex offender is a felony than can result in up to 10 years behind bars.
How our Killeen sex crime defense lawyers can help you
For years, we’ve dedicated ourselves to protecting our clients against a vast array of sex offenses, and will do our best to build a sound defense for you. We’ll collect all the evidence, including written police reports, videos of interviews, photos, witness statements, DNA lab results, forensic report on any weapon, medical records, the report of the sexual assault nurse examiner and forensic reports of cell phone use. If the accusation involves a minor, we will obtain school records, the recorded interview at the children’s advocacy center (CAC) and CPS records if an investigation was started due to the accusation.
We’ve often found that the person making the accusation against our client is motivated by the desire to get revenge for a broken relationship, trying to get custody of a child, filing for divorce, jealous that our client has started a new relationship or is cheating on their relationship, or the accuser may be upset about financial problems, has a drinking or drug problem or a mental health issue.
Most importantly, we know that false accusation can ruin an innocent person’s life.
Tough legal defense for felony sex crime charges in Killeen
At the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, our criminal defense attorneys understand the severity of sexual assault charges and the stigma that comes along with them. We fight to protect your rights, your reputation and your freedom. Let us help. Contact us today at 254-680-4655 or fill out our contact form. to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove, and handle in-custody visits for clients who cannot come to us.