Killeen Sexual Assault Defense Lawyers
Aggressive defense for felony sexual assault charges in Killeen, Harker Heights, or Copperas Cove and throughout Central Texas.
Anyone who is convicted of a sex crime in Texas faces an extremely difficult future. They may be looking at jail time and heavy fines. In addition, they will likely have to register as a sex offender, which means the general public will know they committed a sex crime. If you are convicted of aggravated sexual assault, it will be difficult to find work or a place to live because you’ll be linked to a violent crime as well as sexual assault.
At Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, our Killeen criminal defense lawyers have more than 20 years of experience fighting for those charged with committing felony sex crimes. We strategize to find ways to reduce the charges, to have them dismissed, or to have your case heard before a jury of your peers. Remember, being arrested does not mean you are guilty.
What defines sexual assault in Central Texas?
According to Texas statute, sexual assault requires intent or knowledge. A person charged with sexual assault must cause one of the following:
- Penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person's consent
- Penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person's consent
- Cause 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
- Whether the accused knows a child’s age at the time the offense occurs or not, the person must cause:
- Penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means
- Penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor
- Cause the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor
- Cause the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor
- Cause the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor
How do Texas authorities define “no consent?”
The Texas penal code also provides a list of conduct that indicates there was no consent. These acts of conduct include:
- Forcing the victim to submit or participate in the sexual conduct by using coercion, force, or violence
- Compelling the victim to submit or participate in the sexual act – by threatening to use violence or force or to “cause harm” to the victim – and the victim believes that the accused has the current ability to execute the threat
- The other person to the sexual act has not consented and is unconscious or unable to physically resist
- The actor knows that the other person is not capable of understanding the nature of the sexual act or resisting it – due to the other person having a “disease or defect”
- The victim hasn’t consented, and the accused knows the victim is not aware the sexual assault is happening
- The person conducting the sexual assault intentionally impairs the victim’s power to understand or control their conduct – “by administering any substance without the other person's knowledge.”
- The person performing the sexual conduct by threatening to use violence or force “against any person” and the victim believes the accused can carry out that threat
- The person conducting the act is a “public servant” who uses coercion to get the victim to submit or participate
- The accused works as a mental health services provider or health care services provider – and causes the victim (a patient or former patient of that provider) to submit or participate in the act – “by exploiting the other person's emotional dependency on the actor”
- The accused belongs to the clergy and exploits those emotionally dependent on the clergyman “in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser” to participate or submit
- The accused is an employee of the place where the victim is a resident, “unless the employee and resident are formally or informally married to each other” under the provisions of the Texas Family Code
- The accused works as a healthcare provider “who, in the course of performing an assisted reproduction procedure on the other person, uses human reproductive material from a donor knowing that the other person has not expressly consented to the use of material from that donor”
“Intent” generally requires that the actor consciously intends or desires the result. “Knowing” generally requires that the actor is reasonably sure their actions will cause the intended result.
What are the penalties for sexual assault in Texas?
Sexual assault is normally a second-degree felony. The penalties for second degree felonies, according to the Texas penal code, include up to $10,000 in fines and/or incarceration between two and 20 years.
What is an aggravated sexual assault offense in Texas?
Aggravated sexual assault is defined in Texas Penal Code Chapter 5, Section 22.021. Aggravated sexual assault is similar to sexual assault, with additional requirements that make it a more violent crime:
- Cause serious bodily injury or try to cause the victim’s death or the death of another person – during the course of the same criminal episode as the sexual assault
- Put the victim in fear (through words or deeds) that any person will become the victim of various type of specific sexual acts (such as prostitution and indecency with a child) or that the person will imminently suffer death, serious bodily injury, or be kidnapped
- Make the sexual assault victim fear that they or another person would suffer a serious bodily injury or would be kidnapped
- Use or display a deadly weapon during the course of the sexual assault
- Act with another person to commit a sexual assault
- Enables the offense, gives or administers to the victim any substance that could impair the ability of the victim to understand the nature of “the act” or the ability to resist the act.
Aggravated assault also includes a sexual assault where the victim:
- Is 13 years old or younger, whether or not the accused knows the victim’s age when the offense is committed
- Is an elderly person or disabled person
The definition of lack of consent is the same for an aggravated sexual assault as it for a sexual assault.
What are the penalties for aggravated sexual assault in Texas?
An aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony. Anyone convicted of this crime will be sentenced from five to 99 years in prison. Additional time can be added to the sentence, depending on how young the victim is and the manner of the offense. A person convicted of aggravated sexual assault will also be fined up to $10,000.
Anyone convicted of an aggravated sexual assault will also have to register as a sex offender (for the rest of their life), where their name and address will be available to the public, as well as on background checks.
What defenses are possible in sexual assault cases?
Our Killeen attorneys work with you when you’re facing charges to strategize a defense tailored to your particular case. There are many different ways to approach sexual assault charges, and we consider which works best for your situation.
The prosecution is required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Often, in sexual assault cases, the case comes down to the credibility of the plaintiff and the defendant. Experienced sexual assault lawyers understand how to cross-examine witnesses while keeping a balance between skilled questioning and respecting the witness.
Additionally, prosecutors generally, unless minors are involved, need to show that the defendant acted intentionally or that they had knowledge of what they were doing. The burden is on the prosecution to meet this requirement.
Sexual assault defense attorneys in Killeen
At Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers hold the government to its tough burden of proving its case when you’re accused of sexual assault. We use our experience and skills to question witnesses, argue the law in your favor, negotiate with prosecutors, and aggressively work to achieve dismissals, plea bargains, and acquittals. If you’ve been charged with a sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault, you need a smart strong attorney. Call us at 254-680-4655 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Killeen and Harker Heights.