Is Sexual Assault a Felony in the First or Second- Degree?

January 1, 2020 | By Shane Phelps Law
Is Sexual Assault a Felony in the First or Second- Degree?

Why are some cases of sexual assault in Texas considered second-degree felonies while others are first-degree? At first, the application of the law can seem inconsistent. However, the truth is that different circumstances can elevate a sexual assault from second-degree to first-degree.

What is Considered Second Degree Sexual Assault?

A sexual assault is described as any unwanted sexual contact or contact made without consent. That includes fondling, kissing, oral sex, or even intercourse. In Texas, this is commonly considered a second-degree felony. Both parties must be physically and mentally able to provide consent, and no party may be in a position of power over the other (priest, supervisor, service provider, etc.).

What is Considered First Degree Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault may be elevated to a first-degree charge if it is made against someone who is a minor or who otherwise cannot give consent in any capacity.

What is the Difference Between First and Second Degree Assaults?

The difference between first and second-degree sexual assault affects both the victim and the alleged perpetrator. For example, a second-degree sexual assault typically carries a penalty of 2-25 years. A first-degree sexual assault carries a penalty of 5-99 years.

Why Aggravated Sexual Assault is the More Serious Offense

Another kind of first-degree sex offense is aggravated sexual assault. This is a much more serious kind of sexual assault that typically involves violence, very young children, or the mentally disabled.

A few examples of aggravated sexual assault include non-consensual sexual contact where the perpetrator,

· Caused the victim bodily injury

· Made the victim fear for their lives

· Threatened the victim with a weapon

· Used "date rape" drugs.

· Had a co-conspirator in the assault

· Affected a child under 14

· Affected a mentally disabled individual

Aggravated sexual assault is a very serious charge with the potential to cause life-changing ramifications. Anyone accused of this first-degree felony should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

There are probably many questions on your mind if you've been charged with a sex crime. We invite you to contact our Bryan, TX, criminal defense attorneys at (979) 775-4100.