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

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.

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 normally 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.).

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

Aggravated Sexual Assault

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.

If you were accused of a sex crime, you probably have a lot of questions. If you’d like to speak with an experienced Bryan, TX criminal defense attorney from The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C., please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (979) 773-7028.

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