By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Today I’m continuing my blog series on Sexual Abuse Charges. Here is a guide to this series of blogs on sexual abuse charges where you can find more information on today’s blog and other related topics.
What is Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child?
It is defined by Tex.Pen.C. 22.021(b). Much of criminal law focuses on what we call Mens Rea – latin for “the guilty mind.” This is to say there is a large focus on what defendant is intending through their actions.
In many sexual abuse cases – judges and juries are asked to figure out the intent of the defendant through their actions.
A good way to think of ASAC is the acts of sexual abuse define themselves. In other words, you can infer the intent of the defendant through their actions alone. My apologies in advance for the graphic nature, but Tex.Pen.C. 22.021(b) lists the following acts as Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child:
[A person] (i) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means;
(ii) causes the penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor;
(iii) causes the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
(iv) causes the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
(v) causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
As you can see by the descriptions, none of these actions are debatable that, if true, they constitute sexual assault.
What’s In a Name?
The name of the charge can be a bit confusing because it sounds like weapons, kidnapping or other extreme violence were involved in the allegation like they are with aggravated assault charges.
The term “aggravated” heightens and distinguishes the charges based on the child’s young age because it applies to children younger than 14. Sexual assault of a child (non-aggravated) applies to children younger than 17.
There is an even higher charge than aggravated sexual assault of a child – and that is when a child aged 6 or younger is the victim. This is commonly referred to as “Super” aggravated sexual assault of a child though the statute doesn’t bear the name.
Possible Punishment Ranges
- Sexual Assault of a Child – 2 years to 20 years;
- Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child – 5 years to 99 years or life;
- “Super” Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child 6 years old or younger – 25 years to life (no parole).
ASAC is further confusing because it allows for deferred adjudication but not regular probation. Translation – the only way you can get deferred adjudication probation is by pleading guilty and having the judge grant you deferred.
If a person is convicted of ASAC, either at a trial or from a guilty plea, then they must serve at least the minimum of 5 years in the Texas Department of Corrections.
A person convicted of ASAC is eligible for parole after 50% of their sentence is discharged.
Super ASAC has a minimum of 25 years with no possibility of parole, probation, or deferred adjudication.
All persons convicted or placed on deferred for any of these charges is subject to lifetime sex offender registration.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is designated as a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.