Posted on 5/1/17

Like in most states,Texas law provides for harsh punishment for those convicted of sexual assault against a child. A child, under Texas law, is anyone under the age of 17. Moreover, Texas law further punishes sexual assault offenders when the victim is under the age of 6. In those circumstances, the defendant faces a prison sentence of at least 25 years. Plus, in such a situation, the prosecution tends to be more emboldened to convict the defendant and the media will try to destroy the defendant’s life, regardless ofthe facts of the case.

If you are accused of sexual assault against a child, especially against a child under the age of 6, your life hangs in the balance. Moreover, the punishment is more severe when the perpetrator commits the sexual acts when the victim is under the fear of death or serious bodily injury. The authorities and the media are against you, even before your trial begins. Therefore, you need strong representation to defend your case.

This article discusses the following defenses:

  • Medical care;

  • Lack of intent; and

  • Coercion.

Medical Care

One defense is that the defendant was providing the alleged victim with medical care. The defense can assert that he or she was providing mouth-to-mouth or similar care and did not penetrate the victim’s mouth, anus or other part with a sexual organ or act in any way that suggested abuse. In such an instance, the victim’s medical records and facts on the ground will become factors in determining whether the victim may have required medical care.

Lack of Intent

Lack ofintent to commit rape, under certain circumstances, can be an effective defense. If the victim did not have the mental capacity for consent and the defendant is reasonably unaware of the circumstances, then the defendant lacks the proper mens rea, or guilty mind, to be guilty of rape. Note that the mens rea requirement is relevant in a case where the victim is an adult but lacks capacity to consent. If, however, the victim is a minor, which is 16 and under in Texas, then it falls under the category of statutory rape. Per Texas statutory rape laws, a minor lacks the ability to consent and the crime is a strict liability crime, meaning that the defendant’s intent is not relevant. Provided that the defendant committed the act, which is sexual intercourse with a minor, then the defendant is guilty of statutory rape. This is regardless whether the defendant thought that the victim is an adult or did not have intent to rape. In contrast, when the alleged victim is an adult without the ability to consent then lack of intent is a valid defense.


The defendant counters that the child was coached into stating that a sexual act occurred. Often, a defendant is a family friend helping the child. When the defendant and child’s parent’s relationship goes south, the parent will accuse the defendant of sexual assault and coach the child into saying as such. In such an instance, the defendant should analyze the evidence and statement of the child and parent. The child may just be mimicking what the parent told the child to say.

If you have been accused of sexual assault, know that the charges are serious. Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel, a board-certified criminal defense attorney.

(image courtesy of Adam Birkett)


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