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What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault can be defined in a few ways, but understanding how it's defined by law can help your case. When you're accused of sexual assault, understanding exactly what that means is important, so you can point out the flaws in the accusation.

The Texas Penal Code Chapter 22 contains all the information on the definition of sexual assault in Texas. To start with, the person accused must have acted intentionally or knowingly to be accused and convicted of a sexual assault at trial. For example, it would be hard to accuse a toddler of sexually abusing another toddler, because neither would understand their actions.

For anyone who does understand his or her actions, sexual assault is defined as causing the penetration of the anus or female sex organ of a person besides yourself by any means, as long as the contact was without consent. That means that a person doesn't necessarily have to have sex with someone for an assault to take place; using sex toys or foreign objects could also lead to an assault charge.

The penetration of the mouth of a person with the sexual organ of another without that person's consent is also defined as sexual assault. If there isn't consent, no oral sexual activities are allowed to take place, and if they do, they could be reported as sexual assault. These rules also apply in the case of children, when a child sexual assault is being alleged.

Interestingly, there are a few defenses proposed in Chapter 22. For instance, if the person who allegedly took part in the offense was no more than three years older than the child and there was willing participation, this may not be sexual assault. This is important for those in situations where a teen over 18 and a younger teen, potentially as young as 15, have a sexual relationship.

Source: Texas Woman's University, "Defining Sexual Assault," accessed April. 08, 2015

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Law Offices of Frank Jackson
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