Sexual assault can be one of the most heinous offenses a person can commit. But accusations of sexual assault can also be completely false. Cases involving sexual assault are some of the most difficult to adjudicate, since they frequently involve the word of one person against that of another. They depend heavily on the circumstances so it’s important to have a basic understanding of what sexual assault is.
Different types of sexual assault
Intercourse or sexual contact with a child is one type of sexual assault. Texas Penal Code Section 22.011, which lists the various types of sexual assault, uses the term ‘child’ for anyone under the age of 17. It doesn’t matter whether the person committing the act knows the child is underage – they must only intend to do the act itself.
Although the term ‘rape’ is not used in the statute, committing acts of a sexual nature against another through violence or coercion is obviously prohibited. Texas just uses the term sexual assault, rather than rape. Threats of force or violence are also sufficient, if the person making the threats has the ability to carry them out.
Consent, or the absence of it, comes up frequently in Texas’ sexual assault statute. It includes situations where a person is not conscious or is otherwise unable to give consent. It includes situations where a person suffers from a mental disability, so that they cannot appreciate either the act itself or what consent would mean. Severe intoxication can also implicate these circumstances.
There are affirmative defenses which can be offered against claims of sexual assault in certain situations, such as being less than three years older than a child, when that is the issue. But more often, a sexual assault case will turn on the specific facts of the case and the people or witnesses involved. As a result, a rigorous investigation is absolutely necessary.