There is no separate statute for sexual assault between spouses and sexual assault outside of marriage in Texas. The law does not treat allegations made between spouses any differently than allegations made between strangers. However, defending sexual abuse allegations in marriage comes with its unique challenges. Below is more information about sexual assault charges between spouses in Frisco, Texas.
What is the Law on Sexual Assault in Frisco?
Under Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code, sexual assault is generally defined as sexual contact (oral, vaginal, or anal) against another person without consent.
Spouses can also be charged with aggravated sexual assault in Frisco. Aggravated sexual assault occurs when the perpetrator of a sexual assault does one of the following:
- Causes serious bodily injury or attempts to cause the death of another individual;
- Makes the victim fear bodily injury, kidnapping, or death;
- Threatens to severely injure, kidnap, or kill the victim;
- Uses or displays a deadly weapon;
- Administers a date-rape drug to the victim; or
- Assaults a victim who is younger than 14, older than 65, or disabled.
An essential element of sexual assault is lack of consent. Consent means that both spouses agreed to engage in sexual activity. Sexual assault without consent can occur in marriage when:
- The perpetrator compels the victim to participate through physical force or coercion;
- The perpetrator compels the victim to participate through threats of force or violence;
- The victim is unconscious or physically unable to resist;
- The victim is mentally incompetent;
- The victim is asleep; or
- The perpetrator drugs the victim.
Defenses to Sexual Abuse Charges in Marriage in Frisco
Being married is not a defense. If your spouse has accused you of sexual abuse, it is important to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. The defense of your case will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your situation. Some common defenses to sexual assault charges in marriage include:
- Your spouse consented to the sexual activity. Your attorney can argue that you reasonably believed your spouse agreed to the sexual contact based on prior sexual activity, actions, or words. Because of a spousal relationship’s intimate nature, it is more difficult to prove a lack of consent in marriage as compared to sexual assault between strangers.
- Your spouse made a false allegation. Sexual assault charges in marriage rely heavily on the testimony of the married partners. Your attorney can challenge the testimony of your spouse and find inconsistencies in their testimony during cross-examination. One method of attacking the allegations is to expose the false motivations of your spouse. Oftentimes, sexual assault allegations arise during divorce proceedings. Your spouse may be lying about sexual abuse to gain leverage in the divorce because the court considers sexual abuse as a factor in custody and spousal support determinations. False allegations can completely change the outcome of a divorce proceeding.
- Your attorney can challenge the medical evidence. Many sexual assault cases rely on DNA evidence. However, in marital sexual assault, this is not as significant a factor. Typically, you would expect an individual’s DNA to be on or near their spouse.
You must aggressively defend all sexual assault allegations made against you, and it is critical to work with a knowledgeable attorney with significant courtroom experience.
Texas Penalties for Sexual Abuse in Marriage
Texas takes sexual abuse convictions very seriously. A conviction for sexual assault comes with severe penalties, without regard for whether the assault occurred within a marriage. Penalties for sexual assault between married spouses are handled in the same way as any other sexual assault case.
In Frisco, sexual assault is typically classified as a second-degree felony. It is punishable by two to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Aggravated sexual assault carries a more substantial penalty. It is a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, the court may require you to register as a sex offender, and your spouse could sue you for damages in civil court.
As with any other felony conviction, a sexual assault conviction will cause harm to your reputation and may affect employment, housing, and education opportunities.
Your Frisco Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing sexual abuse allegations, you should reach out to an experienced Frisco criminal defense attorney. Philip D. Ray is a knowledgeable Frisco attorney who will make sure that your rights are protected. Call Philip D. Ray today to schedule a consultation at (469) 588-6770.