If you or someone you love is accused of a sex crime, that person needs immediate representation. Society in general, and Texas courts in particular, deal very harshly with sex offenders. In addition to punishments outlined in the penal code, there are very important consequences to accepting any sort of guilty or no contest plea to a sex crime.
The Texas sex crime laws get tougher every two years. The reason for this is that the Texas legislature meets once every two years. It has been decades since there has not been some sort of “get tough on sex crime” legislation passed.
One very important concern for someone facing a sex charge is being labeled a “Sex Offender” for the rest of their life. Sex Offender Registration is not an easy burden and is difficult to overcome. In addition to all of one’s neighbors knowing that they are a sex offender there are many rules and regulations a sex offender must obey or they will risk being put in prison.
In Texas, there are some very specific evidentary rules that are used in sex crime cases. For example, in many cases where the alleged victim is a minor, the state will attempt to introduce an “Outcry” statement. An “Outcry” is a hearsay statement that would not be admissible except as provided by Article 38.072 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure which provides an exception to the hearsay rule for testimony by “outcry witnesses” when specific requirements are met. An outcry witness is the first person, eighteen years or older, other than the defendant, to whom the child victim made a statement about the offense.
Frequently, the prosecution will attempt to use an “Outcry” to present testimony much broader than permitted by the actual rule itself. Frequently, defense attorneys that are not familiar with the requirements and restrictions on the rule will not object. The proper outcry witness is not determined by comparing statements given by the child and then deciding which person received the most detaild statement about the offense. Instead, the proper outcry witness should be the first person to whom the child described the offense in some discernible manner. A very good description of when such a statement is admissible is found in Garcia v. State.
The defense attorney should not allow the prosecution to introduce into evidence the most detailed outcry statement or multiple outcry statements. A defense attorney should always be looking for ways to limit this type of evidence. Unfortunately, most defense attorneys miss these opportunities and if defense counsel does not object at trial the defendant will not be permitted to object later. That does not necessarily mean that only one “outcry” will be permitted. The rule is that there is one outcry per “act”.
Typically, a prosecutor will argue an interpretation of the facts that allows for the maximum number of outcry statements to be introduced. Alternatively, the prosecutor might argue for the inclusion of the outcry statements that they believe will have the maximum emotional impact. It is very important that the defense attorney challenge the prosecutor’s interpretation. Generally speaking, if a defense lawyer fails to object to this kind of testimony at trial the accused will not be able to complain about it on appeal.
Even if someone receives “Deferred Adjudication” and are told that their case will eventually be dismissed they will likely have to continue registering as a sex offender. Being labeled a sex offender will label them as a pervert for the rest of their life. It will change their lives for the worse in a profound way.
Job opportunities are VERY limited for sex offenders. Background checks which are only an internet search away are becoming more common in modern society. They often reveal a sex offender’s past to anyone who cares to look. In Texas, sex offender registration is controlled by chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
Before you take any kind of plea deal that involves a sex offense make certain your lawyer informs and educates you about the potential consequences of a plea. Not all lawyers (even criminal defense attorneys) are familiar with the consequences of a plea.
If an individual receives probation or deferred adjudication for Indecency, Sexual Assault or Aggravated Sexual Assault that person can have their probation extended by a judge twice for 10 years each time. This means a person that agrees to be on probation or deferred adjudication for 10 years can be required to be on probation for a total of thirty years.
There is no parole for Continuous Sex Abuse of a Child or Aggravated Sexual Abuse. Certain crimes are considered “3G” offenses in Texas. These crimes require a person to do at least half their time or 2 years, whichever is longer. It is important to know what the actual time in prison will be when making your decision to make a deal or go to trial. A 10 year sentence on one case might mean 10 years and on another case it might mean 3. Be informed.
Most Prosecutor’s offices have special units devoted to prosecuting sex offenders. Typically these prosecutors have more time to focus on each case. These prosecutors also tend to be extremely aggressive in pursuing their cases. Having an outstanding defense attorney is very important in these cases.