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What are Sex Crimes in El Paso, Texas?

Sex crimes in El Paso are illegal conduct involving sexual actions against another person without their proper consent. In some cases, consent is invalid, such as in cases involving minors or where the consent was obtained through misrepresentation. Texas law treats sex crimes very seriously. For instance, sexual assault has much more severe consequences in El Paso than assault. It may include additional penalties such as longer jail time and registration requirements. Perpetrators of sexual crimes may also have to live with the stigma of their crimes.

Some recognized sex crimes in El Paso include invasive video recording, indecent exposure, and possession of child pornography. The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains El Paso crime statistics through the Texas Annual Crime Report. In 2019, the Department recorded 390 cases of rape in El Paso. There was a drop in rape cases by 16%, compared to the 464 recorded rape cases in 2018.

What are the Types of Sex Crimes in El Paso?

Chapter 21 of the Texas Penal Code is the El Paso law on sex crimes and provides for all the conducts that amount to sexual misconduct under the law. These sex crimes include:

  • Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or disabled individual. An individual commits this offense if they commit two sexual abuse acts within a period of 30 days, whether or not the victim of the acts is the same person. The perpetrator must be at least 17 years or older while the victim should be 14 years or younger or a disabled person. It is immaterial whether the perpetrator knows the age of the victim. This offense is a first-degree felony and is punishable by imprisonment for life or between 25 and 99 years. If the offense is tried by a jury, the members of the jury do not need to agree on the specific sexual acts that were carried out. However, each member must agree that at least two sexual acts were carried out within 30 days. It is a defense to a charge under the section if the perpetrator was not more than five years older than the victim or the youngest of the victim, no force was used, and the person was not previously required to register for life.
  • Public lewdness. A person commits the offense of public lewdness if they knowingly engage in sexual intercourse or sexual contact in a public place or in the presence of another person who would be offended or alarmed by the act. This offense is a class A misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to a year imprisonment, fines up to $4,000, or both.
  • Indecent exposure. A person commits the offense of indecent exposure if they expose any part of their genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desires of another person while being reckless about the presence of any person who will be offended or alarmed by the act. The offense is a class B misdemeanor. It is punishable with imprisonment for up to 180 days, fines up to $2,000, or both.
  • Bestiality. The offense extends to engaging in an act that involves contact between a person’s mouth or genitals and the mouth or genitals of an animal. It also includes other sexual act between an individual and an animal, such as fondling an animal or touching the animal in a way that is generally not accepted, selling an animal for that purpose, or engaging in such acts in a child’s presence. The offense is a state jail felony and can attract imprisonment in a state jail between 180 days and two years and a fine up to $10,000. If the act is done in a child’s presence or results in serious bodily injury or death to the animal, it is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • Indecency with a child. Engaging in sexual conduct with a child under 17 years old or causing the child to engage in sexual contact is a crime. The crime also extends to exposing a child’s genitals or causing a child to expose their genitals. It is not a defense that the perpetrator did not know the victim’s age. However, it is a defense if the age difference is not more than three years, there was consent, and the perpetrator is not a registered sex offender for life. Engaging in sexual conduct with a child is a second-degree felony and is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Causing a child to expose their genitals is a third-degree felony and is punishable by imprisonment between two and 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Improper relationship between educator and student. This offense is committed if an employee of a private or public primary or secondary school engages in a sexual relationship with a student attending the school where they work. It is a defense if the educator is married to the student or if the age difference is not more than three years and the educator began teaching at the institution after the relationship commenced. The crime is a first-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.

The penalty for sexual offenses in El Paso depends on the specific act and the victims. If the offender’s victim is a child or the offender is a repeat offender, the penalty is likely to be more severe. Other sex crimes recognized in El Paso include:

  • Invasive visual recording.
  • Unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material.
  • Voyeurism.
  • Sexual coercion.
  • Unlawful electronic transmission of sexually explicit visual material.

What Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in El Paso?

El Paso has sex offender registration for some sex crimes. The crime’s severity determines whether the person would need to register and how long they would need to register. Some crimes require registration for the perpetrator’s lifetime, while some others require registration for ten years. Chapter 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the registration requirements in El Paso regarding sex offenders. The registration requirement applies to convictions on or after 1 September 1970. Sex offender registration will not apply if the conviction is set aside or if it is on appeal. The offenders that the registration requirement will apply to are those working, living, or schooling in El Paso.

Sex crimes that require lifetime registration include:

  • A sexually violent offense committed by a person that is 17 years or older. Sexually violent offenses include continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children, sexual assault, and indecency with a child by contact.
  • Trafficking of persons.
  • Prohibited sexual conduct.
  • Compelling prostitution of a minor.
  • Possession or promotion of child pornography.
  • Continuous trafficking of persons.
  • Indecency with a child by exposure.
  • Obscenity that involves obscene materials depicting a child during sexual activity.

The Texas Depart of Public Safety maintains the Texas Public Sex offender Website. All offenders are to submit personal information in compliance with the registration requirement, which may be made available to the public. Any person can search the database by name, address, or institute of higher education. Available information about sex offenders include security identifier, risk level, projected ending of registration date, registration requirement, name, description, and offenses.

What is a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney?

A sex crimes defense attorney represents people who are being prosecuted or likely to be prosecuted for a sex crime. The sex crimes lawyer will help the defendant navigate the procedure, obtaining the best outcome for the defendant. Attorneys usually navigate processes such as interrogation, filing court processes, and representation with the defendant.

Sex crimes defense lawyers have substantial knowledge and experience of criminal law and defense. It is important to contact a skilled sex crimes defense attorney once arrested.  

How does a Sex Crime Defense Attorney Work?

A sex crime defense attorney usually helps the defendant through prosecution, from the pre-trial stages through the trial and post-trial if required. The lawyer will consider the circumstances of the case and help the defendant come up with and present possible defenses. Some defenses that the lawyer may use include:

  • Consent. An experienced sex crime defense attorney can submit evidence that there was consent to engage in a sexual act between the defendant and the complainant. However, the defense of consent will not stand if the victim is below 17 years old. unless the defendant is not older than the victim by more than three years.
  • Marital exemption. Sexual contact by an adult with a child is usually a sex crime in El Paso. However, there is an exception for married couples. A person can use their marriage as a defense to avoid conviction for a sex crime.
  • Factual innocence. A defendant can prove that they are innocent by showing that they did not commit the crime. The prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. Providing evidence to show that the defendant is not responsible for the crime is a defense. This is often done through DNA. If the DNA at the crime scene does not match the defendant’s DNA, it can be used to escape conviction.
  • Mistaken identity. This can be used as a defense in cases where there could have been a mistake in identifying the culprit of the crime.