Drawing the Line Between Rape & Statutory Rape
Every state has its own age of consent laws. In Texas, the age of consent is 17, meaning anyone who is younger than 17 cannot legally consent to participating in sexual activity.
As such, the primary difference between rape and statutory rape is that rape is committed without the victim’s consent, regardless of whether or not the victim is legally capable of consenting. Statutory rape, in contrast, can be voluntary and consensual among both parties but if one party is not 17 or older, then they are legally incapable of giving consent. Thus, even if a statutory rape defendant got voluntary consent from their reported victim, they could still get prosecuted and suffer similar consequences as a convicted rape offender would.
With this information in mind, let’s examine the rape and stator rape laws in Texas:
Section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code defines statutory rape as indecency with a child. As such, a person commits this offense if they do the following acts with a child who is younger than 17 years old, regardless of whether the person knew the child’s age at the time of the offense:
- engages in sexual contact with the child or causes the child to engage in sexual contact
- with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person:
- exposes the person's anus or any part of the person's genitals, knowing the child is present
- causes the child to expose the child's anus or any part of the child's genitals
A common affirmative defense to statutory rape charges is that the defendant was no more than 3 years older than the victim and of the opposite sex. In other words, people between 14 and 17-years-old can give legal consent as long as the other party is at least 14 and consents to the sexual activities in question.
For example, if an 18-year-old was charged with statutory rape of a 16-year-old, then the older party may avoid prosecution because they are less than 3 years apart from the younger party. If a 20-year-old had sex with a 16-year-old, however, they could get charged with statutory rape because they are more than 3 years apart from the minor. These statutory rape laws do not apply to married couples in Texas.
Texas does not formally define rape. Instead, it classifies the offense as sexual assault. It is confusing for sex crime defendants to understand the circumstances of their charges because some people refer to their reported crimes as “rape” while others use “sexual assault.” Nonetheless, the bottom line is sexual assault is defined as a person who 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
- 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
If you’re facing sex crime allegations in Denton, TX, it is essential to enlist the defense of a former prosecutor who understand how both sides of the law work. Derek A. Adame obtains this invaluable knowledge and can use it to build strong defense strategies that counteract the prosecution’s anticipated attacks in your case.
To learn more, contact us at (972) 619-3167!