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What are Sex Crimes in Arlington, Texas?

Arlington sex crimes are criminal offenses with a sexual component. They are illegal or coerced sexual acts involving actual or threatened physical harm. They may also occur due to physical or psychological manipulation. Sex crimes include prostitution, sexual assault, public indecency, and other lewd acts.

Sex crimes are treated differently than other types of crimes in Arlington. Society generally considers sex offenses to be more severe than other crimes, especially when a child is involved. As a result, it is critical to understand that any sex criminal charge, no matter how minor the sexual component, can have a devastating impact on certain aspects of an alleged offender's life. Individuals convicted of such crimes are known as sex offenders, and they are usually subject to harsh criminal penalties. 

Sexual crimes, particularly sexual assault, are typically a source of concern in Arlington and throughout Texas. In response, the 80th Texas Legislative Session responded by passing House Bill 76. (HB 76). The bill mandates that the Texas Department of Public Safety(DPS) collects data of sexual assault offenses as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR). As such, sexual assault data of cities in Texas is represented as rape in the UCR database. In 2018, local law enforcement reported 203 cases of sexual assault or rape. The number of reported cases increased to 241 in 2019.

What are the Types of Sex Crimes in Arlington, Texas?

Sexual crimes in Arlington, according to Texas penal code, include:

  • Sexual assault: This sex crime is characterized by intentional penetration of a person's anus, mouth, or sexual organ without the individual's consent. This crime may be charged as sexual assault of a child if it involves sexually penetrating a child aged 13 or younger while the accused is three or more years older than the victim.
  • Aggravated sexual assault: This is a sexual assault crime complicated by extenuating and aggravating circumstances. In addition to intentional penetration of a person's sexual body parts without consent, it also involves:
  • Threatening or attempting to cause the victim's death or serious bodily harm
  • Using a lethal weapon while committing the crime
  • Giving the victim any substance that will impair their ability to assess the nature of the act or resist it
  • A minor under the age of fourteen
  • A senior citizen or a disabled person.

This crime may also be prosecuted as aggravated sexual assault of a child if it involves the use of coercion or force to have sexual relations with a victim who is 13 years of age or younger. Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony.

  • Aggravated kidnapping: A person commits this crime by intentionally abducting another person to violate or abuse them sexually. In this case, unless the defendant voluntarily released the victim in a safe location, the charge is a first-degree felony.
  • Public lewdness: A person commits this offense if they intentionally engage in sexual conduct in a public place and without regard for others who may be offended or alarmed by their actions. This crime is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Indecent exposure: A person commits this offense if they expose themselves with the intent of arousing or gratifying another person while ignoring whether another person will be offended or alarmed by their actions. This crime is a Class B misdemeanor
  • Indecency with a child: A person commits this offense if they engage in sexual contact with a child that is not their spouse. It may also involve exposure to the child or exposure of the child with intent to arouse or gratify another person. This crime is a second-degree felony.
  • Inappropriate relationship between tutor and student: A primary or secondary school employee commits this crime when they engage in sexual contact or intercourse with a student enrolled at the school where they work. This is a second-degree felony.
  • Improper photography or visual recording: A person commits this offense if they visually record another person without their consent, and with intent to arouse to gratify the sexual desire of any person. This crime is a state jail felony.
  • Prohibited sexual conduct: A person commits this offense when they intentionally engage in sexual relations with relatives by blood, adoption, or marriage. This is a third-degree felony.

Other sex crimes include:

  • Possession, creation, and distribution of illegal pornography such as child pornography
  • Prostitution /solicitation
  • Sex crimes against the disabled and elderly
  • Continuous sexual abuse of minors
  • Display or distribution of obscene material
  • Obscenity
  • Sale, distribution, or display of harmful material to minors (under the age of 18). 

Punishments for Sex Crimes

Possible consequences for sex offense convictions in Arlington include fines, incarceration, community supervision, and the requirement to register with local law enforcement agencies as sex offenders. The severity of the punishments varies according to the specific charge and the circumstances surrounding it.

In general, the crimes are either charged as misdemeanors or felonies and punished accordingly. The following penalties are imposed for misdemeanor sex offenses such as public lewdness and indecent exposure:

  • Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000
  • Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000 
  • Class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

The following penalties are imposed for felony sex crimes such as indecency with a child, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault:

  • State jail felony carries a sentence of 180 days to 2 years in state jail
  • A third-degree felony carries a sentence of 2 to 10 years in prison.
  • A second-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.
  • A first-degree felony carries a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison.

Defendants of felony sex crimes may also be subject to a fine of up to $10,000. People with previous sex crime convictions may face significantly harsher penalties.

What Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in Arlington, Texas?

Most sex offenses prosecuted in Arlington and throughout Texas necessitate sex offender registration. Sex offenders can be registered for ten years or for life. Charges with no sexual contact, such as online solicitation of minors, often carry a 10-year registration period. In contrast, more serious charges, such as continuous sexual assault of a child, necessitate lifetime registration.

In Arlington, Texas, the following offenses necessitate lifetime sex offender registration:

  • Indecency with a child
  • Sexual assault 
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Kidnapping with the intent to commit a sex crime 
  • Burglary with the intent to commit a sex crime
  • Sex trafficking (adults and children)
  • Incest
  • Coercing child prostitution
  • Possession of child pornography 
  • Possession or promotion of obscene material depicting a minor.

The following offenses require 10-year sex offender registration in Texas:

  • Indecent exposure involving a minor (first offense; a second conviction mandates lifetime registration)
  • Unlawful confinement or kidnapping of a minor under the age of 17 (first offense; a second conviction mandates lifetime registration)
  • Indecent exposure involving an adult (second offense)
  • Bestiality
  • Online solicitation of a minor
  • Attempt or conspiracy to commit a sex offense.

According to Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, any individual who has a reportable sex offense conviction or adjudication must register as a sex offender. They must also periodically update and verify the registration with the local law enforcement authority in any jurisdiction they reside in for more than seven days. During registration, they must provide extensive personal information such as their names, birth dates, recent photographs, fingerprints, the victim’s age in their crime of conviction, etc.

The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains a statewide sex offender registry that hosts personal and locational information about sex offenders in Arlington and throughout Texas. Locally, Arlington Police Department also maintains a sex offender registry, which allows city residents to quickly and easily look up sex offenders in their vicinity. These databases allow local law enforcement authorities to monitor and track sex offenders following their release into the community. 

Since the registers are open to the public, inquirers can search the databases by entering an offender's name and address information. A search will provide the following information about a search subject:

  • Offender’s name
  • Recent photograph
  • Physical description
  • Residential address
  • Date of birth 
  • Details of the sex crime, etc.

The sex offender registry also provides information about an offender's risk level. The three risk levels recognized by Texas law are as follows:

  • Level one (low risk) offenders: These sex offenders pose a minor threat to the public and are unlikely to engage in criminal sexual conduct.
  • Level two (medium risk) offenders: These sex offenders pose a reasonable danger to the public and may engage in criminal sexual conduct in the future.
  • Level three (high-risk) offenders: These sex offenders pose a severe threat to the public and will continue engaging in criminal sexual conduct.

Low-risk offenders must register and keep their information up to date for ten years. On the other hand, medium-risk offenders are required to register for 10-25 years, while high-risk offenders must register until they die. Registrants are required to update their information at least once a year, with the highest-risk offenders required to report in person every quarter.

Registration as a sexual offender in Arlington subjects sex criminals to restrictions in various areas, including:

  • Employment: Registrants are prohibited from engaging in any occupation that would put them in direct contact with children. Also, some professional licensing bodies, such as those of lawyers and accountants, will reject applications from sex criminals.
  • Residence: Sex offenders are not allowed to live within 500 feet of a facility that provides services to children. Schools, churches, playgrounds, daycare facilities, sports fields, and school bus stops are examples of such places.
  • Use of the internet and social media: Arlington's high-risk sex offenders are barred from accessing the internet or maintaining social media profiles. Lower-risk registrants may be granted limited internet access.

Because of these restrictions, it is usually difficult for registrants to find gainful employment, housing and lead a normal life in their communities. As a result, anyone who has been accused of committing any sexual offense(s) is urged to retain the services of an experienced sex crimes defense attorney to improve their chances of avoiding a conviction.

What is a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney?

Sex crime defense lawyers are criminal defense attorneys that specialize in representing people accused of committing sex crimes. Because sex offenses are prosecuted harshly in Arlington, anyone charged with a sex crime should consult with a sex crime attorney as soon as possible. A defendant who hires a skilled sex crime attorney improves their chances of successfully defending themselves against the allegations.

A sex crimes attorney can take actions that will mean the difference between an acquittal and a conviction. They can conduct thorough investigations of sex crime cases and determine the most effective defense strategy for the defendant. They are capable of interviewing those involved in the incident, subpoenaing critical witnesses if required, and challenging any violations of the defendant's rights that may have occurred. A sex crimes lawyer will also look over police reports, lab reports, and forensic evidence to see if the evidence against the defendant is admissible in court. These actions can result in the suppression of evidence and, sometimes, the reduction or dismissal of charges.

How does a Sex Crime Defense Attorney Work?

A sex crime attorney’s responsibility is to defend an accused person against sex crime allegations. To successfully do this, the attorney must first evaluate the case or evidence and then develop a defense strategy to counter the allegations. Defense, in this case, entails filing legal motions to dismiss the charges, arguing for the exclusion of evidence, or negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution.

The sex crime attorney will also represent the defendant in court if the case proceeds to trial. Essentially, the attorney's job is to persuade the judge or jury that the defendant is innocent of the charges. Depending on the facts of the case, multiple legal defenses can be used to obtain acquittal, dismissal, or reduction of charges. Some of them include:

  • Insanity or mental incapacity

This defense asserts that the defendant committed the alleged conduct. However, it claims that the individual had a severe mental illness, and the crime was committed because of their inability to distinguish between right and wrong. If a mentally challenged person cannot comprehend what they were doing at the time of an alleged crime, this defense may absolve the accused of criminal responsibility. As a result, instead of prison, the individual may be sentenced to a medical/mental facility for treatment.

  • Innocence

This defense involves demonstrating that the accused did not commit the alleged crime. In this case, it is critical to present sufficient credible evidence to mount this defense successfully. This could include presenting an alibi, such as the fact that the accused was elsewhere during the alleged sex crime.

DNA evidence can also be a powerful tool in proving one's innocence in a sex crime investigation. If the accused's DNA does not match the DNA samples taken from the crime scene or the victim, the charges may be dropped entirely.

  • Consent

The consent defense applies to crimes such as sexual assault, where a lack of consent is a necessary element of the crime. In this case, the defense must show that the alleged victim consented to the sexual act and was legally able to do so. In Arlington, only people aged 17 and over are legally capable of giving consent. As such, consent will be deemed inapplicable if the alleged victim is under 17 or is coerced into participating in the conduct.

Notwithstanding, Texas has a Romeo and Juliet law. This law makes an exception for couples that are close in age. If the necessary conditions are met, the older partner can use this law to defend against sex crime allegations involving a minor.