Articles Posted in Sex Offenses

Texas criminal law has developed in a way that seek clarity and justice in protecting the rights of victims of sexual assault. Those accused of sexual assault may also face a stigma because of the type of allegations, and sexual assault cases often come down to he-said-she-said credibility issues that make it essential for jurors to both understand the law of consent and accurately evaluate the credibility of witnesses. A recent judicial opinion from Texas demonstrates the challenges faced by both the prosecution and defense in navigating the legal intricacies surrounding witness testimony and the interpretation of consent.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published appellate opinion, the recent case in question involved an individual who was convicted of attempted sexual assault, a third-degree felony. However, the trial court’s jury instructions became a focal point of contention on appeal, as it allowed the jury to consider a broader range of actions than originally alleged in the indictment. The charge included a lesser-included offense for attempted sexual assault with an application paragraph that expanded the means of penetration to “by any means,” contrary to the indictment’s specific mention of using the sexual organ.

Upon appeal, the court of appeals found that an error was made in the charge and that the charge error was not harmless and led to egregious harm, resulting in a reversal of the conviction. The dissenting opinion argued that the error was harmless, emphasizing the unlikely scenario in which the jury would engage in convoluted mental gymnastics to reach a verdict.

Sex offender registration is a serious legal requirement that affects individuals convicted of certain sex crimes in Kaufman County, TX. The consequences of a sex offense conviction can be far-reaching, including the requirement to register as a sex offender. As experienced Kaufman County criminal defense attorneys who regularly handle sex cases, it’s common for our clients to fear sex offender registration more than they do any potential jail time they could receive if found guilty.

In this blog post, we will delve into the sex offender registration requirements in Kaufman County and shed light on the importance of consulting a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to navigate this complex area of law.

Sex Offender Registration Laws in Kaufman County, TX

In Kaufman County, like the rest of Texas, sex offender registration is governed by the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program (SORP). The SORP requires individuals convicted of specific sex offenses to register as sex offenders and comply with various reporting and notification requirements.

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In the legal landscape of Texas, the question of whether children can testify in a criminal case is an important one. Children’s brains are still developing and they don’t always have a firm a grasp on the difference between the truth and a lie. Not only that, but some children may not understand the importance of being truthful, even if they know the difference. And, of course, there is always the very real possibility that an interested adult influences a child’s testimony. Needless to say, the ability of a child to provide testimony can significantly impact the outcome of a case, so it is crucial to understand the laws and processes involved.

Understanding the Legal Age of Testimony in Texas

When it comes to testifying in a criminal case, the age of the child plays a significant role. In Texas, there is no specific age requirement for a child to testify. Rather, the criterion for determining a child’s competency to testify is their ability to understand and answer questions truthfully.

Testifying in court can be a daunting experience for anyone, let alone a child. Therefore, the Texas legal system takes into account various factors when deciding whether a child is capable of providing reliable testimony. One such factor is the child’s intellectual capacity. The court assesses whether the child possesses the cognitive abilities necessary to comprehend and respond to questions accurately.

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In a recent case before an appeals court in Texas, the defendant took issue with his conviction of continuous sexual abuse of a minor. The defendant was originally charged after his stepdaughter came forward to her school counselor, alleging that he had abused her multiple times. A jury found the defendant guilty, and he was sentenced to 50 years in prison. On appeal, the defendant argued the State should have been prohibited from introducing evidence that he threatened to kill his stepdaughter’s family, principally due to its irrelevance in the case. Ultimately, the higher court denied the appeal and affirmed the defendant’s original conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant met the young girl involved in this case when he began dating her mother. Eventually, the defendant married the girl’s mother, and the group moved into a house together. When the girl was 12 years old, the alleged sexual abuse began, and eventually, the girl disclosed the abuse to her school guidance counselor.

The State investigated, gathered details, and learned that the defendant had sexually abused his stepdaughter at least seven times over the course of a couple of years. The defendant’s case went to trial, and he was found guilty as charged. At his sentencing hearing, the defendant was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He promptly appealed.

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In a recent opinion issued by the Seventh District Court in Texas, the court denied the defendant’s appeal of his sexual assault conviction. Originally, the defendant was arrested, charged, and convicted based on an incident in which he sexually assaulted an acquaintance of his at a party while she was intoxicated. Appealing the decision, the defendant emphasized that he should not have been convicted because there was insufficient evidence to show he knew the acquaintance was intoxicated. Reviewing the record in the case, the higher court eventually denied the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was attending a party on New Year’s Eve with a group of friends. At one point during the party, the defendant and his girlfriend went to check on an acquaintance that was intoxicated and laying on an upstairs bed. The defendant’s girlfriend went to the bathroom, at which point the defendant forced himself on the acquaintance in the bed.

When the defendant’s girlfriend came out of the bathroom, the defendant immediately backed away. The pair then left the bedroom. Later, the acquaintance told another person at the party she thought she had been sexually assaulted. She was taken to the police station, and after some discussion with the investigators, the defendant was arrested and charged.

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In a recent case before a Texas court of appeals, the defendant asked the court to reconsider his guilty verdict for aggravated sexual assault of a child. Originally, the defendant was convicted of the first-degree felony and sentenced to forty-five years in prison. On appeal, the defendant argued that the court erroneously instructed the jury, making him more likely to receive a guilty verdict. The court denied the appeal, ultimately affirming the decision coming out of the lower court.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was at first indicted for three different offenses: continuous sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual assault, and indecency with a child.
The defendant’s case went to trial. Before the jury made its decision, the judge gave jury members written instructions, as is common in any criminal case. In the instructions, the judge indicated that the jury should use “common sense” when making a decision about whether the defendant was guilty or not guilty. After deliberating, the jury delivered a verdict of guilty of both aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child. Promptly, the defendant appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the jury instructions unnecessarily prejudiced him before the jury made their decision. According to the defendant, the judge essentially asked the jury to speculate instead of urging them to look objectively at the facts of the case. By inviting this degree of speculation, the court gave an erroneous instruction and made the jury more likely to find the defendant guilty. Thus, said the defendant, the verdict should be reversed.

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Cases of sexual assault and abuse, especially those involving children, hinge greatly on the perceived credibility of the victim and other witnesses. Because children are often coached into making statements to law enforcement and medical professionals that may incriminate a defendant, the credibility of alleged child victims, as well as their complaining family members, is often an important issue in sex abuse cases. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeal recently addressed a lower court’s ruling that had reversed a sexual assault conviction against a church organist, who allegedly sexually assaulted a small boy who he was entrusted to care for.

The defendant in the recently decided case was a member and organist at a church that was attended by the alleged victim and his family. After the child’s mother witnessed the boy performing a sexual act on a sibling and asked where he learned such a thing, she claimed her son told her that he was forced to perform sexual acts on the defendant several times in the past. After a police investigation and extensive interviews were completed, the defendant was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a child.

As the case progressed toward a trial, the alleged victim’s family was divided into two camps. The victim’s mother and maternal grandmother believed the victim. Other family members, including the victim’s great-grandmother, who was highly regarded in the church, as well as cousins and other relatives, claimed that the victim’s mother manufactured the story and was a compulsive liar. Because of this division, the trial focused primarily on the credibility of the victim and his mother around the time the abuse was reported. During the trial, the prosecutor asked a police officer if he believed that the victim was lying when he was interviewed, and the officer responded no.

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.

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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.

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