Generally, the state of Texas segregates sex crimes in a separate and distinct category because of the egregious moral nature of the crime. These are offences incorporating sexual or lewd characteristics in violation of either federal or state statutes, which can accordingly be charged in the federal or state court, depending on the arresting authority as well as the nature and severity of the crime. A broad definition would be to apply the term “sex crimes” to any criminal offence or range of offences which are sexual in nature and these can be, for example, sexual assault, voyeurism or illegal dissemination of intimate visual content. Basically, the fact that the crimes include a form of sexual gratification for the perpetrator or sexual exploitation of the victim is what determines the application of the term sex crime.
Equally, the statute of limitations is explicitly not applicable for any charges involving the sexual assault or abuse of a child. Moreover, sex crimes are also delimited with regard to the applicable punishment. Persons who are convicted of certain types of sexual offences face, apart from the expected societal punishment of imprisonment and/or fines, possible entry into the Sex Offenders’ Registry for a period of time as may be determined by the courts in accordance with the applicable law.
The City of Lubbock in Texas, which has an estimated population comprising 310,639 individuals under the national census figure as at 2021, saw an increase from 238 to 267 rape incidents reported by law enforcement between 2018 and 2019; like most Texas cities, it also has historically harsh penalties for sexual offences. Sexual offenders are typically charged with a multiplicity of offences. Therefore, a person could appear before the court and be charged for the separate offences of online solicitation of a child and molestation.
During the most recent period on public record on the FBI crime database (which is the third quarter of the year 2021), it was observed that the city of Lubbock, Texas has experienced an increase in sex crimes reported as noted above. Lubbock accounted for 4% of rape crimes reported in Texas in the third quarter of 2021 with a count of 200 incidents reported. This was well above the state average of 138 and Lubbock is actually listed as having the eighth highest count of such incidents in Texas.
What are the Types of Sex Crimes in Lubbock, Texas?
While the public by and large agrees that sex offences are deplorable, certain sex crimes as a rule are adjudged to be more severe and can therefore attract much more punitive measures by the courts because the victim(s) of such offences are minors. While some sex crimes incorporate elements which are applicable to both adults and minors, there are also some sex crimes which are considered criminal primarily because of the age of the victim in question. We shall now briefly examine some of these offences:
1. ADULT SEX CRIMES: The term “adult” here may be considered an incongruity because the victims of the sex crimes listed under this head may be minors as well as adults. However, in most instances, offences directed at minors also have specific laws prohibiting them or defining the crimes and punishments, which we shall be examining later. In the instant category, we have sex crimes involving (usually) adults, which may be with or without physical assault as an attendant factor. In Texas, in any situation in which the victim of the sex crime is an adult, the statute of limitations is applicable. The period in question is 10 years for a criminal case and the offences include the following:
(a) Misdemeanour Sex Crimes: these are included under misdemeanour charges of classes A, B or C and consist of offences such as:
- Prostitution: a person propositions another person to deliver sexual services for him or her in exchange for money or some other benefit of a material nature; if the accused person is a first-time offender, the state shall classify it as a Class B misdemeanour; however, if the accused person happens to be someone who has been convicted of the same offence in the past, it can either be classified as a Class A misdemeanour or a felony.
- Solicitation of Prostitution: occurs whenever a person tries to make someone else take part in the doing of a sexual act in exchange for money or some other benefit of a material nature. This offence is regarded as a Class B misdemeanour; however, if the accused person happens to be someone who has been convicted of the same offence in the past, it can also be classified as a Class A misdemeanour or a felony.
- Public Lewdness: deemed to occur when the accused person engages in conduct consisting of sexual or deviate sexual intercourse or sexual contact in public with no regard for the presence of other people who may be alarmed or offended by the conduct in question on the part of the perpetrator. Public lewdness is classified as a Class A misdemeanour which attracts a penalty of up to a year in prison as well as a fine of up to $4,000.
- Voyeurism: defined as the offence of observing another person for the purpose of the perpetrator’s sexual gratification without the victim’s consent at a time when the victim is in either a location or dwelling where he/she would have a realistic expectation of privacy. This offence is a Class C misdemeanour except in cases where the perpetrator has been convicted in the past on 2 or more occasions of the same nature or alternatively whenever the victim is less than 14 years of age.
- Harassment: defined as gratuitous and unsolicited contact by the accused which may be sexual in nature. This is judged by the courts to be a second class misdemeanour, except whenever the accused’s criminal history discloses that he/she has had prior criminal indictments for a similar offence.
- Indecent Exposure: exposure of the accused with the intention to arouse sexual desire in another with a disregard for the alarm or offence the accused’s actions may cause to others – it is a Class B misdemeanour.
- Unlawful Electronic Transmission of Sexually Explicit Visual Material: this occurs when the perpetrator electronically sends visual material of sexual acts or intimate sexual organs, including that of covered male parts in a state of arousal without the request or alternatively express consent of the recipient. It is classified as a type C misdemeanour.
(b) Felony Sex Crimes: these are crimes which attract felony charges under the state or federal laws and includes charges such as the following:
- Sexual assault: colloquially referred to as ‘rape’ in everyday English lexicon, this offence is defined under Texas Penal Code §22.011 as any sexual act involving another person without that person’s consent being had and obtained beforehand or in the alternative the refusal to desist from the sexual act when consent is rescinded. The Uniform Crime Reporting database report released by the FBI for 2019 shows that Lubbock law enforcement officials documented 285 incidents of rape. Rape is a second degree felonious offence which carries a sentence upon conviction of 2 to 20 years with the possibility of a fine not exceeding $10,000. There is also the possibility of registration as a sex offender at the discretion of the court.
- Aggravated sexual assault: Under the provisions of the Texas Penal Code §22.021, this crime comprises of the elements of sexual assault in addition to an infliction of serious bodily injury to the victim or attempts to cause the victim’s death or uses force or violence or the threatens violence, whether upon the victim or another person. It is a serious crime and is therefore a first degree felony offence with a prison term of 5 years at least (and 99 years at most) in addition to a maximum fine of $10,000. Conviction for this offence normally results in listing the accused in the Sex Offenders’ Registry.
- Aggravated Kidnapping this offence is covered by Texas Penal Code §20.04. It occurs when a person abducts another with the intent to sexually abuse the target. This is a first degree felonious offence which is subject to a minimum of 5 years in prison and a maximum of 99 years. However, the accused may have the sentence reduced if it can be ascertained that they released the victim in a safe place of their own free will. When this occurs, the charge is dialled down to a second degree felony charge and the sentence is between 2 and 20 years’ incarceration with or without a consequential fine.
- Prohibited Sexual Conduct: this offence is defined under the Texas statutes as either deviate or normal sexual intercourse with a person who is the accused’s ancestor, stepchild/parent while a marriage still exists which forms the connection, descendant by blood or adoption, or parent’s sibling even if half blood, or a blood- or adopted sibling to the accused or any offspring of the blood- or adopted sibling. Such offences are deemed to be 3rd degree felonious crimes and upon conviction attract a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. The minimum punishment allowed is 2 years.
2. CHILD SEX CRIMES. They constitute the most harshly adjudicated and punished variety of offences pertaining to sex crimes, both under state and federal laws. According to the Texas Crime Report for 2019 referred to in the third paragraph above, there were 18,778 victims in total involved in incidents with elements of sexual assault. These were predominantly (88.6%) of the female gender and the age group that was most significantly affected was the 10 to 14 age bracket. Child sex crimes include offences such as:
- Child Pornography: Codified under federal statutes as well as Texas Penal Code §21.15, this is the illegal videotaping, photographing, broadcasting, transmission, reception, possession or recording of any visual image of a minor without prior agreement of the minor with an intention to gratify or arouse another individual’s sexual predilection. Federal law mandates that individuals charged with child pornography are not bailable as of right and the accused may be remanded in custody at the discretion of the adjudicatory body, as the circumstances of each case may determine.
- Indecency: This may fall under the head of indecency by either contact, which may also be referred to as ‘petting’ or by exposure. Indecency by contact is defined as the accused having physical contact of a sexual nature with a minor or instigates a minor to perform sexual contact on the individual as defined under Texas Penal Code §21.11.1. This charge can be proffered regardless of whether or not the contact in question was through a layer of clothing. Under the head of exposure, indecency is the offence of deliberate exposure of the anus or genitalia by an individual who knows a minor is present or instigates the exposure of the anus or genitalia of a minor under Texas Penal Code §21.11.2. Indecency is classified a second degree felony offence which upon conviction attracts a prison sentence of up to 20 years and up to $10,000 in fines..
- Online Solicitation of a Minor: This crime is a second degree felony which is defined under the Texas Penal Code §15.031 as the use of electronic means by an adult to initiate a meeting with a minor with the purpose of instigating sexual conduct. There is a penalty upon conviction of between 2 to 20 years in prison. The sentence when a person is convicted may also entail a fine which may be up to $10,000. Finally, any individual convicted of this offence shall also be required to be entered in the Sex Offenders’ Registry for a minimum period of 10 years.
- Improper Relationship between Educator and Student: Under the provisions of the Texas Penal Code §21.12, where a school employee engages in any inappropriate sexual conduct with a student enrolled in the school district in which the individual is employed, they are guilty of a felony. For the purposes of establishing the guilt of the accused, the law has stated that the nature of the school, whether private or otherwise, elementary or middle or high, is irrelevant. Likewise, even in cases where the victim is no longer a minor under Texas law, the offence is still punishable. Once the employee participates in any sexual act or deviate sexual intercourse, they will become liable and face not only incarceration and fines but also additional punishment which may include suspension or revocation of the teaching license by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC). In fact, under the provisions of SB7 which was eventually enacted in 2017, the SBEC can actually hold back accrued pension annuities for any employees of a school district who are convicted for contravening this law.
- Molestation: This occurs when any indecency or sexual contact or sexual abuse takes place and involves a victim who is a minor. The younger the victim, i.e. less than 14 years, the harsher the punishment under the law. Even where an individual does not directly participate in the molestation but nevertheless is aware and neglects to act to prevent the ongoing sexual exploitation of a minor, they will be liable for this offence.
- Sexual trafficking of a child: The definition for this offence under Texas Penal Code §20 deals with human trafficking offences. Under its provisions at §20 A.02 (a) (7) or (8), it becomes apparent that this is considered to be a more serious form of trafficking than trafficking for the purposes of physical servitude. Once an individual procures illicit sexual advertisements, solicitations or exploitation by means of a commercial sex act, they have contravened this provision of the law and are liable upon conviction to between 5 years and incarceration for life in addition to a fine of $10,000. In fact, under federal law, in situations when the minor is very young or the accused assaults or threatens the minor or attempts to do so, the minimum sentence is 10 years, which can be extended to life behind bars.
- Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child: The Texas Penal Code § 21.02 defines this offence as occurring whenever there are at least two acts of sexual abuse of a minor or minors during a period of at most 30 days by an accused person. This offence is categorised as a very severe one and is therefore a felony of first class which has a minimum sentence upon conviction of 25 years’ incarceration. The maximum allowable sentence for this crime is 99 years and the accused also faces a maximum fine of $10,000 if found guilty. The statute stipulates that any victim should be 14 years or younger at the time the offence is committed, although it does not matter, for the purposes of ascertaining guilt, whether the accused in fact knew the age of the victim or not. Any individual who is repeatedly convicted for this offence or with a prior record of sex crimes conviction is consequently given a life sentence as a matter of course.
- Statutory Rape: The offence of statutory rape is codified under Texas Penal Code § 21.011 and it is defined as sexual intercourse between an adult and a child who is less than 17 years old and is not married to the accused. It is immaterial whether the act occurs with the minor’s consent or not, because under the law valid consent cannot be given by the victim. The crime is penalised as a felony of the second degree and conviction results in between 2 to 20 years’ in prison, with the added possibility of a fine of up to $10,000.
- Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child: This crime is committed upon the accused instigating sexual contact of their mouth, anus or genitals with either the mouth, anus or genitals of a minor or instigating the reverse act by the minor on the accused or someone else; in addition, the minor must be no older than 14, or was drugged for the purpose of the accused person carrying out the act, or was threatened with a weapon used by the accused, or there are any other aspects which worsen the offence. In circumstances where the minor is 6 years old or less, the mandatory minimum prison term is 25 years. The punishment for this crime can be as many as 99 years in prison in addition to a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
What Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in Lubbock?
As a general rule, several sex crimes are deemed heinous enough that the any individual upon conviction is liable to being identified in a Registry of Sex Offenders to ease the tracking and identification of such individuals and help to ensure the safety of other members of the society at large, especially children The Sex Offenders’ Registry contains the pertinent details of suspects who have been imprisoned for the commission of certain types of sexual offences. These individuals can be tracked even when they move across state lines, as a National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) is maintained which contains, among other information, the sex offender's current or last known address, history and possibly case data for sex crime(s) committed, as well as the offender’s image. The list may also give details of the offence in question. Sex offender ID checks can be conducted by querying the database for the accused.
Cities in the state of Texas tend to take a very dim view of sexual offences, and as a result it is a well-known fact that Texas is tough on sexual offences. The applicable practices regarding Sex Offender registration are therefore extremely rigorous and because of this, the term during which the accused remains registered under the applicable laws vary. For instance, federal statutes stipulate registration for a period of between 15 to 25 years for the offence of burglary where the accused had formed the intent to commit a sexual assault, depending on the facts of each case. For the same offence, Texas laws dictate the convict has to be registered for the rest of their natural life.
What is a Sex Crimes Defence Attorney?
Sex offences require specialised defence attorneys to ensure the proper handling of what is usually a very delicate matter; it is therefore crucial for persons accused of any sex offence to contact a sex crimes attorney, which is basically an attorney that has vast experience in the defence of persons accused of sex offences. The defence against allegations of sex crimes is procedural in nature, and a sex crimes attorney is more likely to understand and successfully take advantage of any evidential lapses, procedural errors or mistaken allegations.
Furthermore, the sex crimes defence lawyer is in a more likely position to understand the intricacies and elements of the different types of sex crimes a person may be charged with. The attorney will therefore be able to more effectively:
- Review and evaluate the testimony and weight of evidence in the case.
- Evaluate any laboratory or scientific evidence presented by the prosecution
- Use their knowledge of the law to ensure any evidential material that is improperly obtained is expunged or discountenanced.
- Identify and exploit conflicting technical details of the prosecution’s case to secure an acquittal, e.g. through the presentation of an alibi or use of the Romeo and Juliet rule.
How does a Sex Crime Defence Attorney Work?
In the process of defending their clients, sex crimes attorneys typically try to ensure that they can secure a complete dismissal of the allegations. This can sometimes be done by having the prosecutor decline to press forwards with the case. However, there is a possibility that the stigmatisation associated with the mere allegation of sex offence, especially in Texas, would result in very negative and harsh outcome for the accused regardless of any subsequent discharge. Where dismissal by the prosecutor proves unattainable, the sex crimes lawyer may explore the possibility of securing an acquittal or getting the charges reduced. Some defences which may be proffered by the sex crimes defence lawyer are:
- Innocence: Refutation of the sex offence, successful pleading of which brings about an acquittal. This may be done by several methods, including confirming an alibi verifying the defendant was elsewhere at the relevant time through video, communications, and payment vouchers and so on. They may or may not be supplemented with witness evidence. Alibis can only be confidently used in the absence of reliable DNA evidence. The defendant will be acquitted if they can conclusively demonstrate that the accused was erroneously identified.
- Victim’s Consent: Where the defence can show to the jury that the parties to the sex act(s) were willing participants, it will usually serve as a justification for acquittal of the charges. Here, the accused relies on the element of consent. It is essential that the alleged victim must be an adult capable of giving the required consent, as minors cannot give consent under law. Likewise, if the victim is mentally incapable of giving consent due to being in an involuntarily inebriated condition or being administered a date rape drug for example, the defence cannot be raised.
- Mental Incapacity of the Accused: Most sex crime convictions stipulate that the defendant must have formed the mens rea or intent to commit the crime without the victim’s consent. Thus, mental incapacity can form a defence if the defendant can show the court that mental psychosis or involuntary intoxication occurred. It should be stressed that the inebriation of the defendant must be involuntary. Furthermore, acts conducted in the heat of passion are not justifiable using this defence.