Sex Crimes In Texas: How Soon Do You Need to Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Sex crimes are a particular kind of criminal defense case; things can become complicated very quickly in these matters. For years, I have devoted part of my Dallas law practice to defending individuals who are being investigated or have been charged with any one (or more) of a number of sex crimes as defined under the Texas Penal Code. These cases are important and each one is specific to its set of facts and circumstances.
One of the unique characteristics of a sex crime case is that the defendant may end up with a lifetime punishment in the form of being labeled a “sex offender” with all the corresponding registration requirements. Another distinction is how taboo most of the American public finds these types of crimes: even the mere suggestion of someone being accused of a sex crime, and lives can be destroyed. The power of gossip regarding a sex crime investigation can never be underestimated.
What is a Sex Crime?
Sex can be against the law. In Texas, the law defines many different sexually related activities to be illegal including, for example, sexual assault; rape; statutory rape; indecency with a child; possession of pornography (involving either adults or children); improper photography or visual recording; and more. See, Chapter 21 of the Texas Penal Code entitled “Sexual Offenses.”
Arrests for sex crimes can be based on other parts of state law, too, and sometimes federal law is involved (e.g., sex offender registration violations). For instance, prostitution and pornography are crimes defined in Chapter 43 of the Texas Penal Code (”Public Indecency“) and sexual trafficking statutes are found in the TPC’s Chapter 20A (”Trafficking of Persons“).
Importance of Aggressive Representation When Sex Crimes Are Suggested
In many types of criminal cases, defendants are wise to wait to mount their defense until the prosecution actually has something to use for their case. Being questioned by police — with a lawyer present — isn’t going to mean permanent harm to someone’s life or a loss of freedom or even an arrest in things like money laundering or embezzlement.
The police have to have probable cause to arrest someone here in Texas. They can’t just willy-nilly slap cuffs on someone who they want to believe has committed a crime.
However, in sexually-related crimes, even the suggestion that an individual is being questioned by police or considered by prosecutors can be enough to harm the person. These folk are all too often presumed guilty by everyone the minute that their name is connected to a section of the Texas Penal Code in a single conversation.
Which means that if anyone has even a gut intuition that law enforcement might be looking at them for a sexually related crime, then they need to act and not procrastinate. Because patience does NOT pay in these circumstances.
In fact, I believe that criminal defense in sex crime cases is so important that I’ve written an article dealing with doing the job right: read “Top 10 Mistakes In Sexual Assault And Indecency With A Child Cases.”
Rush to Judgment in Sex Crimes – Examples
Here are a few examples of how sex crimes can reverse the legal standard of “innocent until proven guilty” and the right to trial in this country. Consider these media stories — none of which involve a single arrest, much less conviction of anyone:
1. Child Pornography – Mere Search of Jared Fogle’s Home Meant Lost of Livelihood in One Day
Jared Fogle has been the recognized face for Subway Restaurants for many years now. We all know the story of how Jared Fogle lost a lot of weight from his “Subway Sandwich Diet.” However, after the FBI and Indiana law enforcement arrested an employee of Jared Fogle’s charity foundation on child pornography charges, they went to Fogle’s home to exercise a search warrant. It was reported by the Indianapolis Star that a police truck was parked in front of Fogle’s house and that electronic equipment was being taken to and fro the Fogle residence as the police inspected it. Fogle was seen there, as well, going into and out of that same truck.
That was on a Tuesday morning. That same day, Fogle was fired by Subway.
A news release from the company stated that it was the “appropriate action to take” — this in spite of the fact that no allegations had been made against Fogle, that he had not been arrested, that he issued a statement that he was sure that there would be “no actions forthcoming” and that he had been “shocked” by the arrest of the charity employee and had fired him after he had been arrested and charged.
Lesson here: press coverage of a search ended up with Fogle losing his livelihood and lots of insinuations being made that he, too, possessed child pornography.
Whether or not Jared Fogle is ever arrested or charged with any sexually related crime is not the issue here. The point to be made is what happened to him on a single Tuesday when his home was searched by law enforcement and that search picked up by the media.
2. Sexual Abuse – Josh Duggar Has Never Been Arrested
Josh Duggar is one of the many children starring with their parents in the reality TV hit show, “19 Kids and Counting.” Duggar has never been arrested much less convicted of any sexually related crime. Nevertheless, the family’s television show has been canceled and Duggar has lost his job, with his family forced to move away from their home, in what the media has dubbed a “sex abuse scandal.”
See the timeline of this news story as compiled by USA Today.
Again, whether or not Josh Dugger is ever arrested or charged with sexual abuse of his sisters or any other female is not the issue here. The concern is that the media stories have replaced the criminal justice system here, rushing to judgment and issuing punishment without due process.
3. Rape – Bill Cosby Has Never Been Charged
Then, of course, there is the Bill Cosby scandal. No need to go into those details — Time Magazine has published what it calls a “Cheat Sheet” of the Bill Cosby sex scandal. Once again, Cosby has never been arrested or charged, much less convicted, of any sex crime. However, he’s gone from treasured family icon to villianous preditor in the eyes of the American public — and he’s lost endorsements, college chairs, and much more as a result.
Another example of trial by finger-pointing not trial by jury.
Lesson Here: It Is Never Too Soon To Have A Lawyer In A Sex Crimes Case
This isn’t a discussion of guilty or not. We’re not delving into harm to victims of sex crimes and the extent of punishments deserving of predators upon young children or vulnerable women. The point here is that in this country, where we have a Criminal Justice System, all too often the rapidly evolving internet technology that includes both social media as well as news coverage is surplanting the traditional methods and the dangers are high.
In these cases, having an experienced sex crimes lawyer is so important because the job of defending the individual begins much earlier and is much more complex than many other types of criminal defense matters. Anyone concerned that they may be suspected of a sex crime in Texas would be wise to consider what has happened to Josh Duggar, Bill Cosby, Josh Fogle (and the list could go on here — like the Duke LaCrosse Team, the University of Virginia Gang Rape Story, etc.).
Note: Of course, there is the other side to the story. One has to wonder about Statutory Rape laws in California and while there has been so much news coverage of 20-something year old rapper Tyga dating 17-year old Kylie Jenner (she just turned 18 last week), the adult has never been arrested, charged, or apparently harmed in any way by the relationship. In fact, there are news stories alleging that he’s even written a song about it. Go figure.
For more information, see our web resources page for Sex Crimes as well as Michael Lowe’s Case Results.
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