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New Texas Laws Expand Definitions of Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse

Texas has toughened its laws on sex offenses by adding to the types of conduct that can be prosecuted as sexual assault or sexual abuse. The statutory changes, which took effect on September 1, 2021, address a broad range of conduct and target people in certain professions that involve close working relationships with potential victims.

Recently enacted legislation revises the Texas Penal Code section that describes lack of consent relating to sexual assault. These two provisions have been added:

  • Sexual assault by a coach or tutor —A sexual assault is committed when a coach or tutor causes an individual to submit to or participate in sexual activity, using power or influence to exploit the dependency of that individual.
  • Sexual assault by a caregiver — A sexual assault is committed when a person hired to assist an individual with daily life activities causes that individual to submit to or participate in sexual activity by exploiting their dependency.

These new provisions mean that a conviction for sexual assault against a coach, tutor or caregiver can be obtained without the need of proving that physical force, coercion or threats were used against the victim.

Another important change to the Penal Code makes continuous sexual abuse of disabled individuals a criminal offense. The amendment extends to the disabled the same protection from abuse already afforded to children under the age of 14. A person may be charged with this offense when they commit two or more acts of sexual abuse within a 30-day period. Continuous sexual abuse of a disabled person or a young child is a first-degree felony carrying 25 years to life in prison with no parole.

A person accused of any sexual offense faces substantial jail time and heavy fines. A conviction can also do serious damage to one’s reputation and career. It’s crucial to have a skilled criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and find flaws in the prosecution’s case.

At The Law Offices of Kevin Collins in San Antonio, we have extensive experience defending Texas residents against a wide range of criminal charges, including sex offenses. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, immediately call 210-598-8629 or contact us online.

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We are here to help and support you through these generally challenging times with your specific legal issues. You will be able to reach me or my staff through our main telephone numbers, and of course by email: [email protected]. Phone conferences for existing and potential clients are available, as is the video conference feature through the Zoom app. Zoom may present some privacy challenges so phone conferences are preferred. Please take care of your health by following the measures recommended by the CDC, and by state and local authorities.
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