Posted on 6/17/19

It is not uncommon for a person to meet another person and fall in love, even if they are 10 or 20 years apart in age. If the younger partner is at least 18 years of age, they are free to date whomever they want. However, if the person is under the age of 18 and the partner is a legal adult, the relationship can be illegal, resulting in jail time and sex offender registration for the older partner.

That is why it is important tounderstand what the age of consent is. The age of consent is the age that a person can legally consent to sexual activity. While the age varies from state to state, the age of consent in Texas is 17. That is the minimum age at which a person is deemed old enough to voluntarily engage in sexual activity.

Indecency with a Child

You may think that Texas has what is referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet” law.This law, recognized in Colorado for example, allows minors to engage in sexual activity with other people close to their age. However, Texas does not recognize this law. Even if the ages of the two parties involved are close, for example an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old, the 18-year-old could face criminal charges.

Texas statutes recognize this activity as indecency with a child and is broken into two types of indecency charges:

  • Indecency by Contact: This offense occurs when a person engages in any type of sexual contact with a minor who is less than 17 years of age who is not their spouse and/or who causes the child to engage in sexual contact. Sexual contact is defined as the touching of a person, including touching even if it is through clothing, on their breast, anus, or any portion of the child’s genitals if it was committed with the intent to gratify or arouse the sexual desire of the person. The intent can be inferred from their remarks and conduct and the surrounding circumstances.

  • Indecency by Exposure: These indecency offenses occur when exposure of the child exposes the anus or any portion of the genitals while the child is present or causes the child to expose their own anus or genitals, also with the intent to sexually gratify or arouse the person’s sexual desires.

Are These Separate Offenses?

The Texas Court system has ruled that the two offenses are separate. The two crimes can be committed independently from each other. Therefore theTexas Penal code has two separate offenses that are punished differently.

  • Indecency by Contact: This is a second-degree felony which is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

  • Indecency by Exposure: This is a third-degree felony that is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges for indecency of a child, you need to ensure your rights are protected by having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact the attorneys atAbel Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.

(image courtest of Jon Tyson)


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