Articles Posted in Sex Offenses

Criminal investigators and prosecutors have always used whatever technology is available to assist them in finding and prosecuting alleged criminal activity. Technology has come a long way in the past century. Instead of using magnifying glasses and dusting for fingerprints, today’s detectives utilize cutting-edge technology to identify and prosecute criminal suspects. The advent of DNA technology in the past 40 years has revolutionized criminal investigation. New technologies are not always reliable, however, and “junk science” has been used in the past by prosecutors when securing illegitimate convictions. The Texas Court of Appeals recently addressed a defendant’s challenge to a relatively new method of DNA analysis.

The defendant in the recently decided case was arrested and charged with sexual assault after an investigation pointed to him as a suspect in the rape of a neighbor. Police recovered many pieces of evidence to link the suspect to the crime, and biological samples were taken from the defendant to compare with evidence left at the crime scene using DNA testing technology. During the trial, the prosecutor called an expert witness to discuss the results of the DNA testing. The DNA testing for this case was performed using a technology known as Y-STR testing. According to the witness’s testimony, the defendant’s DNA matched the semen recovered from the crime scene. The expert testified that the chances of the DNA being from another unrelated person from the suspect were 1/237,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Based on the testimony from the expert, as well as the other evidence offered at trial, the defendant was convicted of the crimes.

The defendant appealed his conviction on several grounds, mostly arguing that the DNA testing was unreliable and that the Y-STR testing technology used by the prosecutor’s expert was not proven to be accurate. On appeal, the high court rejected the defense’s arguments, noting that settled Texas law accepts DNA testing as a reliable method of identification, and previous Texas Supreme Court decisions have allowed the admission of Y-STR evidence that was even less compelling than that offered in this case. As a result of the high court’s ruling, the defendant’s conviction will stand

In a recent case coming out of a Texas court, the defendant lost when appealing his convictions for sexually assaulting a child. On appeal, the defendant argued that the victim’s testimony was not enough for a jury to conclude that he was guilty of the assault. The court, however, found the testimony to be both sufficient and credible. Disagreeing with the defendant, the court ultimately denied the appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant began sexually assaulting his stepdaughter when she was twelve years old. At that time, the defendant would regularly find opportunities to be alone with the victim and would subject her to some sort of sexual activity. The child did not question the activity but instead went along with whatever the defendant suggested that they do.

A few years later, the defendant’s sexual abuse had not stopped, and he continued to subject the victim to assault every few weeks. When the victim was a teenager, the defendant divorced the child’s mother. When the victim turned 18 years old, she and the defendant got married, and at that point, the victim began to realize that the relationship between the two individuals was not normal. She went to the police with allegations of sexual assault, and the defendant was charged accordingly.

Continue reading

In a recent case coming out of a Texas court, the defendant appealed his conviction for possession of child pornography. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court made a mistake when it denied his motion to suppress incriminating evidence found on his cell phone. According to the defendant, the police officers’ search of his phone was an unconstitutional invasion of his privacy, and the evidence should not have been allowed to come into his trial. The court reviewed the facts of the case and ultimately disagreed with the defendant, denying his appeal in the process.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a police officer that had previously interacted with the defendant in this case secured a search warrant for the defendant’s cell phone in July 2016. The officer had been undercover in a chat room when the defendant sent a message saying that he had cocaine to sell and that he was looking for a buyer. The defendant also wrote that if any of his buyers tried to call the police on him, he would shoot them in retaliation.

The officer carried out a drug-buy bust of the defendant, securing the defendant’s phone in the process. The officer then requested a warrant through the court system, explaining that he thought the phone could provide evidence of additional criminal activity. The officer’s warrant was granted, and upon a search of the phone, the officer found child pornography. The officer then requested a second warrant to specifically investigate evidence of the pornography on the phone. Once that second search warrant was executed, police confirmed their suspicions and the defendant was charged accordingly.

Continue reading

In a recent opinion from a Texas court involving sexual assault, the defendant’s request for a new verdict was denied. The defendant was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of fourteen. At trial, the plaintiff, a child who was ten years old at the time of the assault, testified about the incident. The trial court found the defendant guilty, and on appeal, he countered that the plaintiff’s testimony was insufficient to prove his guilt. The court disagreed and affirmed his guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the plaintiff is a minor who lived in a two-story apartment with her brother, her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend. In the spring of 2017, her mother’s boyfriend invited his sister and her boyfriend, the defendant, to move into the apartment with them. There were then six people living in the apartment – the kids, their mother, and her boyfriend living upstairs, plus the boyfriend’s sister and the defendant living downstairs.

One evening, when the plaintiff was ten years old, she went downstairs to put a cup away in the kitchen. The defendant suddenly approached her as she was about to leave the kitchen. He dragged her to the floor, pulled her shorts down, and began touching her leg and chest. The defendant penetrated her anus with his penis, assaulting her until the plaintiff’s brother came downstairs. The plaintiff quickly put her clothes back on and at first, no one found out about the incident. It was not until five months later that the defendant reported to her aunt what had happened. An investigation ensued, and the defendant was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of fourteen.

Continue reading

Sex offenses are some of the most serious charges anyone can face in Texas. Not only does a conviction for a sex crime often result in a lengthy prison sentence, but it can carry other life-changing consequences. For example, if you are convicted of a sex crime you will almost certainly be required to register as a sex offender, possibly for the rest of your life. You will also be limited in where you can live and work.

Not all sex offenses are created equal, however, and some crimes that are considered sex offenses (and require sex offender registration) may come as a surprise. The following are a few of the most common Texas sex crimes:

  • Possession or distribution of child pornography;
  • Public lewdness;
  • Indecent exposure;
  • Maintaining an improper teacher/student relationship;
  • Voyeurism;
  • Sexual assault (rape);
  • Prostitution; and
  • Obscenity.

Notably, most sex offenses do not require someone to actually perform a sex act; it is a crime to engage in an act in furtherance of the commission of a sex crime. For example, leaving the house to meet up with a minor you met in an online chatroom for the purposes of engaging in any type of sexual relationship can result in criminal prosecution. In most cases, the crime is punishable to the same extent as if you carried out the sex act.

Continue reading

Contact Information