What Does Aggravated Sexual Assault Mean?

An aggravated sexual assault.
Each year in Texas, many people become victims of sexual assault. Texas ranks as the 15th most dangerous state for sex crimes in the U.S. While many accusations prove true, some people bring false allegations of sex crimes. If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime, you need a skilled lawyer to provide a legal defense because this charge carries serious penalties. Here, we’ll share what aggravated sexual assault means and what you should do if you face charges.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a crime involving sexual contact. The Texas Penal Code defines sexual assault as when someone intentionally or knowingly:

  • Penetrates the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent;
  • Penetrates the mouth of another person with a sexual organ, without consent; or
  • Causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person.


The age of the victim determines the severity of punishment for sexual assault. If these actions take place with a child, the crime carries increased penalties.

What Is Consent?

The prosecutor must prove that the sexual act occurred without consent. The Texas Penal Code says a sexual act lacks consent if:

  • The actor compels someone to submit or participate by the use of physical force, violence, or coercion;
  • The actor threatens to use force or violence against the person or to cause harm to the person or a third person, and the person believes you can harm them;
  • The person is unconscious, physically unable to resist, or unaware that the act is occurring and has not consented;
  • The person has a mental disease or defect that causes them to not understand the nature of the sexual act;
  • The actor administered any substance without the other person’s knowledge to impair their senses;
  • The actor is a public servant, mental health services provider or health care services provider, clergyman, coach, tutor, caregiver, or employee at an in-person treatment facility who uses their position to coerce the other person to submit or participate; or
  • The actor is a health care services provider who uses human reproductive material from a donor in an assisted reproduction procedure without obtaining consent.


These situations that lack consent may prove vital to the prosecution of your case, so you must learn important details about the person accusing you of sexual assault. Proving that the person consented to the sexual act could mean an acquittal and no time behind bars.

What Is the Penalty for Sexual Assault?

In most cases, sexual assault is a second degree felony that carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

What Is Aggravated Sexual Assault in Texas?

Some circumstances elevate sexual assault to a more serious crime. Sexual assault becomes aggravated if the actor:

  • Causes serious bodily injury to another person;
  • Attempts to kill someone;
  • Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon;
  • Puts the person in fear of being trafficked, kidnapped, seriously injured, or killed;
  • Puts the person if fear of someone else being trafficked, kidnapped, seriously injured, or killed;
  • Drugs the victim;
  • Assaults someone under 14 years old; or
  • Assaults an elderly or disabled person.


If your attorney can disprove these aggravating factors, downgrading your sentence to sexual assault, it can spare you significant penalties.

What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Sexual Assault?

Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Some aggravated sexual offenses involving children carry a minimum of 25 years in prison. If you have a conviction for a previous sexually violent offense, you could face life without parole.

What Are Defenses Against Aggravated Sexual Assault Charges?

If you have been charged with aggravated sexual assault in Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The district attorney’s office typically uses its best prosecutors on sex crimes cases, so you need a skilled attorney to present a carefully tailored defense. Your lawyer may use one of these defenses.


First, you can argue that the person consented to the sexual act. The consent defense can be difficult to prove because the person must have shown affirmative consent and be capable of consent. Children and mentally impaired people cannot give consent to sexual contact.


If you did not have sexual contact with the person, your attorney will try to prove that by catching the person in lies or showing a case of mistaken identity. If you can prove an alibi for the time of the crime, this helps your defense of innocence.


If your accuser lies about the assault to try to get back at you for something, your lawyer will gather evidence to prove the person has a questionable motive. If your accuser commits perjury to falsely accuse you, they could face significant penalties.


If you committed the sexual assault but were not mentally well at the time, your attorney may use a defense of insanity. This defense does not acquit you of the crime but allows the court to provide more lenient punishment.

Contact an Experienced Sexual Assault Lawyer

Immediately after you are charged with aggravated sexual assault, you must contact an experienced criminal defense legal practitioner. If convicted of this charge, you face the loss of your freedom for decades, so you must take this charge seriously. A lawyer can explain Texas law on aggravated sexual assault, investigate the accusations, and formulate the best defense to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

At Hartley Law Firm, attorney Austin Hartley provides aggressive representation for people accused of serious crimes. He offers significant trial experience but maintains personalized, skilled representation for each client. Contact Hartley Law Firm for a free consultation to speak to Austin and get started on your aggravated sexual assault defense today.

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