Everyone knows what’s considered right and wrong when it comes to sexual conduct, but what you might not know is how sexual harassment in Texas is handled under the law. We all know it’s not okay, nor is it allowed. But is it a crime? It’s usually not, but sometimes it is. From a legal standpoint, sexual harassment is usually treated as a civil matter instead of a criminal one. It falls under a big umbrella under which a number of actions may fit. So, certain types of sexual harassment can lead to criminal charges in the State of Texas.
How Sexual Harassment is Defined in the State of Texas
The Texas Penal Code doesn’t explicitly address sexual harassment, but these actions can potentially lead to you being charged with a number of criminal offenses. Sexual harassment investigations are usually initiated through a complaint that’s made to an employer of state agency. In this state, they’re filed through the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). There are a number of state laws that prohibit certain types of conduct that are considered to be sexual harassment in Texas. Some of them can include but may not be limited to:
- Harassing phone calls, emails, or texts.
- Inappropriate romantic notes, gifts, or letters.
- Making inappropriate physical contact.
- Requesting sexual favors.
- Showing, sending, or using explicit images or sexually-charged language.
- Making unwelcome sexual advances.
- Making threats when those advances are denied.
When they’re taken through the criminal court system, sexual harassment in Texas is often treated as a misdemeanor. In more severe cases, you could be charged with a felony. Some of the most common sexual harassment charges in Texas include but may not be limited to:
- Criminal Harassment — Whenever you engage in actions in which you intend to “annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass” someone else by making an obscene comment or proposal, you could be charged with this Class B Misdemeanor (which could lead to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine).
- Assault — Any contact that’s considered “inappropriate” under civil sexual harassment in Texas can be turned into a criminal assault charge, especially if you reasonably know that it could be seen as “offensive of provocative.” This Class C Misdemeanor can result in a $500 fine, unless the contact caused pain to the other person. This would be considered a Class A Misdemeanor, which can lead to a year in jail and $4,000 fine.
- Sexual Assault — These types of charges always require some evidence of “penetration without consent.” In most of cases, these situations often involve happy hours, celebrations after hours, and other similar situations. This type of charge is considered a second-degree felony, which can result in 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Be sure to speak to a qualified attorney for more information.
The Court Process for Sexual Harassment Charges in Texas
If you have been accused of a sex crime in the State of Texas (even if it’s false), you need to speak to a sexual harassment lawyer in Texas — someone with experience in dealing with these types of cases and has a track record in handling sex crimes. After you have been arrested for sexual harassment charges in Texas, this person will be able to represent you throughout many of the critical periods of your case. You also need to hire a sexual harassment attorney in Texas with extensive trial experience in handling cases that are similar to yours and has a team of qualified people to work on your case.
An arrest for any type of criminal offense can lead to problems, but an arrest for any type of sex crime (whether it’s against a child or an adult) can lead to more serious consequences. A conviction for a sex crime in Texas can affect any of the following:
- Child custody.
- Employment opportunities.
- Housing options.
- Federal assistance.
You may have to register as a sex offender, but other less tangible consequences can come from communities that create a hostile environment for those who are found guilty of these offenses.
The criminal justice system in the State of Texas is meant to protect communities, but it’s not perfect. False or exaggerated charges of sexual harassment or assault can send innocent people to prison for long periods of time and can seriously affect their lives moving forward. When subjectivity gets involved in a criminal case, objectivity can get thrown out the proverbial window. Both the judge and jury can be moved by emotional evidence that can work against you, especially if you don’t have a sexual harassment lawyer in Texas by your side.
If you’re facing sexual harassment charges in Texas and need the best criminal defense attorney in Corpus Christi to help you with your case, be sure to get in touch with someone at Gale Law Group.