Everyone in Texas needs to know and understand what an age of consent law is and how it may apply to themselves and their loved ones. An age of consent law sounds simple; however, several complex situations can arise from what were thought of as consensual relationships and lead yourself or your loved one to devastating consequences.
The “age of consent” is when a person is mature enough to consent legally to sexual acts. All states and the federal government recognize different ages of consent. In Texas, the age of consent is seventeen.
The Age of Consent in the U.S. and Surrounding States
The federal age of consent is sixteen. However, federal consent applies only to travel between states, countries, or sexual acts on federal property. The legal age of consent in states surrounding Texas are as follows:
- Arkansas, 16
- Louisiana, 17
- New Mexico, 17
- Oklahoma, 16
The purpose behind an age of consent law is to protect those who are underage from the sexual advances of adults. By law, those under the age of consent are still children and, as such, are not yet mature enough to understand sexual relations; nor can they appreciate the long-term effects of the sex act.
Texas Penal Code and The Age of Consent
Any adult who engages in a sexual act with a person under seventeen in Texas cannot claim the consensual activity. It does not matter if the minor gave permission or the offender was unaware of the minor’s age.
Some age of consent sex crimes in Texas include:
- Statutory rape
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Indecency with a child by exposure
- Indecency with a child by contact
Most sex crimes in Texas are felonies. Convictions for these offenses can require registry as a sex offender. If you or a loved one is facing a sex crime, speak with an experienced San Antonio sex crimes attorney right away.
Exceptions to The Age of Consent
Texas has a Romeo and Juliet law to protect two persons involved in a sexual relationship with no more than a three-year age difference. However, there are strict conditions the couple must meet for the exception to apply.
Another legal defense to an age of consent charge is a legal marriage. If the defendant and his sexual partner are spouses, there is no crime.
Consequences of a Texas Age of Consent Criminal Conviction
Consequences of an age of consent sex crime will likely require registry as a sex offender. This can lead to increased public scrutiny, loss of future living, employment, and educational opportunities, and all of one’s information readily available online to the public, including, but not limited to one’s:
- Home address
- Work address
- Vehicle description
- Description of any charges for which there was a conviction
In addition, county authorities require registered sex offenders to regularly check in their office and notify law enforcement officials of any relocation.
Do not let an age of consent sex offense run or ruin your life and future. Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, is here to defend your legal rights and freedom when you need help the most. Call or contact our experienced San Antonio criminal defense attorneys today.