Campus Sex Crimes in Texas
Accusations of sex crimes occurring on college and university campuses are common and law enforcement is constantly dealing with these matters. With sexual assaults being serious crimes, the state sees these issues as a top priority and prosecutes offenders aggressively. If you find yourself being accused of an on-campus sexual assault crime of any nature, you’re facing serious charges and need a lawyer on your side.
Working with the Law Office of Paul Schiffer
The criminal penalties attached to sexual assault crimes are steep and the investigations are tough. By aligning yourself with the Law Office of Paul Schiffer, you will have a professional attorney with decades of experience on your side. We will make sure your rights are protected throughout the investigation and trial, and will work hard to help you maintain your freedom and restore your good name.
If you are a college student accused of sexual assault, you might be facing more than criminal penalties. Most colleges have codes of conduct that prohibit sexual misconduct, and, unlike a criminal proceeding, the college is not required to respect your rights to due process. Upon an allegation of sexual assault, you could be expelled from your school, wasting the money and effort you expended up until that point at the college of your choice. It would make it more difficult to ever be admitted to another quality college or university, whether to finish your undergraduate degree or to pursue an advanced degree.
It is this complex cascade of consequences that makes these charges so difficult. Paul Schiffer has the experience, not only in defending against the crime of sexual assault, but also in navigating the tricky and often one-sided ramifications with the educational institution, that you need to properly defend yourself against this charge. Luckily, hiring an experienced attorney can help protect you. There are many different layers to a sexual assault case.
When you work with Paul Schiffer and his team, you’ll have the positive support you need to help you get through this trying time. Prosecutors, law enforcement, and college administrators tend to be quite harsh based on the serious nature of these crimes, and they often don’t look at the real person behind the allegation. We do the exact opposite. When you work with the Law Office of Paul Schiffer, you’ll never be judged based on your charges. Instead, you’ll be treated with dignity and respect from the moment you contact us throughout the duration of your case. Having that soft spot in a turbulent time can help make a bad situation a little more tolerable and we look to do just that.
When you contact Paul Schiffer, we will listen to your case, analyze the facts, and form a credible defense to help you. We will also tell you what you can expect during a trial including your possible defenses and the possible punishments you face in the event that you are convicted. We will work around the clock to make sure that you have the best chance of proving your innocence or at least reducing the charges against you.
Common Campus Sex Crimes
Campus sex crimes don’t just consist of rape. There are a few different charges that college students can find themselves accused of at any given time. Here are brief descriptions of the most common campus sex crimes that the Law Office of Paul Schiffer can help you handle.
Rape and Sexual Assault
According to Sections 22.011 and 22.021 of the Texas Penal Code, rape is sexual intercourse without the consent of the other party while sexual assault is sexual contact without consent. In order for a crime to be committed under these statutes, there has to be an intentional act knowingly done without the consent of the victim. One or more of the following elements must also be in place:
- physical force or violence used against the victim;
- the threat of force or violence;
- that the victim was unconscious or unable to resist physically;
- the victim could not give legal consent because of mental illness; or
- the accused’s status as an authority figure, public servant, mental health or healthcare provider, or clergy member was used to coerce the victim.
Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code also covers date rape. This is a sexual assault that is committed with the aid of a chemical substance that is intended to incapacitate the victim so he or she is unable to protect him or herself, or physically resist his or her attacker. This is considered aggravated sexual assault because of the use of the drug. The well-known date rape substances are:
- gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, sometimes known as GHB;
- ketamine, or simply “K;” and
- rohypnol, commonly known as “Roofies.”
Statutory rape is a sexual assault between an adult and a minor under 17 years old who are not married. According to Section 21.011 of the Texas Penal Code, a crime is committed when there is sexual penetration between the adult and the minor. Here, the victim’s consent is not a defense because minors are considered incapable of giving sexual consent under the law. There doesn’t need to be violence or force involved, either.
According to Section 21.08 of the Texas Penal Code, there is a crime committed when a person exposes his genitals or anus with the purpose of sexual arousal or gratifying sexual desires of their own or of the victim. That exposure may be intentional, or it may be reckless, meaning that the accused didn’t take into account whether or not there might be a person nearby who would be offended by the exposure. No physical contact needs to occur here, as contact would elevate this to an even more serious charge.
College Sexual Assault Statistics
According to a 2014 study done by the US Department of Education, campus sex crimes are consistently reported and Texas colleges and universities are no exception. This study found that local universities had as many as 17 reports or campus sex crimes. Statistics also show that as much as 25 percent of college women have reported sexual assault at least once and that only 5 percent of these crimes are officially reported.
With statistics like this being a matter of public knowledge, most students accused of a sex crime are presumed guilty before their case is even tried. This makes it harder for you as the accused, because you will face backlash from your community, school, friends, and even relatives once an allegation is made against you. However, you’re entitled to equal protection under the law as well as due process and the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. This is where having an experienced defense attorney on your side can help as they will fight for your rights and protect your freedoms every step of the way.
Possible Penalties for Campus Sex Crimes
Every sex crime is unique and comes with its own range of penalties. If convicted of any campus sex crime, you face serious penalties that include jail time and fines, and you will most likely have to register as a sex offender for a given period of time. When you meet with a defense attorney, he will tell you the specific penalties you face based on the facts of your case, but, for reference, here is a breakdown of common campus sex crimes and their ranges of penalty.
|Sexual assault ||Second-degree felony||2-20 years in state prison, maximum fines of $10,000, lifetime sex offender registration|
|Aggravated sexual assault ||First-degree felony||5-99 years in state prison, maximum fines of $10,000, lifetime sex offender registration|
|Date Rape||First-degree felony||2-99 years in state prison, maximum fines of $10,000, lifetime sex offender registration|
|Statutory Rape||Second-degree felony||2-20 years in state prison, maximum fines of $10,000, possibility of longer sentences based on mitigating factors, required sex offender registration for 10 years to life|
|Indecent Exposure||Class B Misdemeanor ||Up to 180 days in prison, maximum of $2,000 in fines, possibility of elevated sentence based on mitigating factors and prior criminal history, 10-year sex offender registration for repeat offenders|
The mere allegation of a campus sex crime is bad enough. The penalties for a conviction and the ramifications after you complete your sentence are even worse. If found guilty of any crime, you will have a criminal record that is publicly available to anyone who does a background check on you. You will also likely have to register as a sex offender. This puts all of your personal information in a public database that can be pulled up by anyone at any time. Based on these facts, you can face problems in different aspects of your life. Some of these consequences are:
- a permanent criminal record which will show up in background checks;
- restrictions on where you can live and work once you are released;
- difficulty finding or keeping a job;
- the inability to volunteer with certain organizations, including churches;
- the inability to obtain or the revocation of certain professional licenses;
- the inability to possess firearms;
- a negative change in immigration status, or the denial of citizenship;
- difficulty running for public office;
- loss of custody or visitation rights of biological children;
- the inability to foster or adopt a child;
- public stigma in your local community;
- strained personal relationships with friends and family;
- difficulty gaining admission to college or similar schools;
- the denial of financial aid for school; and
- the denial of government aid or difficulties applying for government aid.
Depending on what kind of sex crime you are being accused of, there are credible defenses that might be available to you. As these crimes usually happen in private, there may be no other witnesses other than the victim and the accused. That makes these cases more difficult to prove for the prosecution, and equally difficult for the defense attorney to defend against.
In general, a defense attorney will analyze the facts of the case, interview witnesses, and build a solid defense. At trial, your defense attorney will present evidence to show that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof, cross-examine the state’s witnesses to create reasonable doubt about their statements, and present evidence in your defense.
It’s occasionally the case that an accused consensual sex with alleged victim, who, regretting his or her decision, claims that the sexual activity was not consensual. Similarly, there are instances where a bitter ex-flame makes rape accusations against his or her former partner out of revenge. While difficult, these types are cases are ideal for an experienced and tough defense attorney. Key to the accused’s defense is the destruction of the alleged victim’s story, and the presentation of evidence of motive in bringing the charges against the accused.
Lack of Intent
In certain cases, especially indecent exposure cases, a lack of intent can be used as a credible defense. Here, your defense attorney can show that the accused didn’t have an intention to gratify a sexual need or arouse sexual feelings in another by exposing him or herself, which would mean that one of the key elements of the crime of indecent exposure has not been met.
Mistaken Identity or False Accusation
Just because you were accused of a campus sex crime doesn’t mean that you actually did it. You could’ve been misidentified by witnesses or a grainy surveillance camera, or you could simply be falsely accused by a vindictive person. A good defense attorney will work to expose the flaws in the prosecution’s case, and do his own investigation to prove your innocence in these cases.
There are a few other defenses available for people accused of campus sex crimes. One of these is stress or duress. This is when a crime was committed, but the accused only participated because he or she was threatened with harm, or otherwise forced to commit the act. This may be harder to prove, a good defense lawyer can use this defense if the evidence warrants.
Another possible defense is an insanity plea. If the accused has a mental illness or some kind of disorder that medically proves that they can’t be held accountable for their actions, a defense team can make that argument in court. Some mental illnesses can also play a role in a lack of intent defense.
This is a specific defense that can be used in statutory rape cases. In Texas, the marital exemption allows for a consensual relationship between an adult and a minor under the age of 17 as long as they are legally married.
College Sexual Assault Policies
While sex crimes are handled by law enforcement, colleges and universities must disclose all information they have regarding sexual crimes that are committed on campus. These institutes also develop their own policies to try and prevent sexual assaults on campus. These usually vary from one school to another, but there are the Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act and the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights to offer some streamlined regulations for schools.
Certain institutions will hold campus hearings in certain situations where a sex crime is reported within the school. This is so the school can conduct its own investigation into the allegations so it can determine if the accused violated the school’s sexual assault policy. In these cases, the rights of the accused are usually limited when compared to their rights in a criminal investigation and trial. Here, most institutes use a preponderance of the evidence standard instead of reasonable doubt, meaning that an investigation only has to prove that it is more likely than notbthat the accused violated the campus’s sexual assault policy.
Here, while the defense attorney’s role may be limited, having a defense attorney with experience handling college administration actions related to sexual conduct cases is invaluable. A separate criminal investigation will not prohibit a school from conducting its own investigation, so the accused essentially ends up having to defend himself in two very different arenas. Even if the criminal charge against the accused is dismissed, a college or university can still proceed to expel the accused.
Title IX Hearings
Campus investigations related to sexual misconduct are often referred to as Title IX actions. The federal law known as Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in higher education. All schools that accept federal funds must comply with Title IX. Its intention is to make sure students aren’t deprived of access to any educational opportunities because of their sex. This has been equated to campus sex crimes by most colleges as well as by the US Department of Education, with the argument being that women are being deprived of equal educational opportunities because of the prevalence of campus sex crimes.
In 2017, the US Department of Education issued guidelines advising universities that they have to address all instances of sexual misconduct on campus, including those where no complaint was filed. For instance, if a school is aware that an incident of sexual misconduct may have occurred, but no one reported anything, they have to take action to address the issue. It should be noted that these guidelines aren’t laws, but they do explain to the schools how the Department of Education will handle all Title IX complaints they receive.
Similarly, schools have to investigate the cases and publish “grievance procedures” in order to resolve the cases. The school is expected to gather sufficient evidence and hold a Title IX Hearing to reach an impartial determination on whether or not the sexual misconduct in question occurred. All of this is done in order to make sure that colleges are doing their part to curb hostile educational environments and to maintain equal rights for all students on campus.
While Title IX was made to help provide all students with equal rights in respect of their education and educational environment, its existence does create a more contentious atmosphere for anyone accused of a campus sex crime. That makes having a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney on your side even more important. You need to have someone in your corner fighting for your rights.
If you or someone you love is being accused of a campus sex crime, you shouldn’t wait any longer; contact the Law Office of Paul Schiffer immediately to discuss your case. You can reach us by phone, email, through our website, or by stopping by our office in person. We will hear your case, analyze the facts, and tell you what to expect throughout the investigation and possible trial. When you work with us you’ll have an experienced defense team with the legal knowledge to help you and the compassion to give you the emotional support you need along the way. Don’t wait; call us today.
How has Paul Schiffer Successfully Defended Cases of this Kind?
That’s a great question, but you won’t find the answer here. While there is nothing inherently secret about a great defense, some attorneys are simply better prepared, more creative, and more experienced than others. It’s that combination that makes Paul Schiffer successful in defending these cases. A professional sports team, or an army preparing for battle, doesn’t disclose its strategy to the opposition. It is only through a confidential, in-person, meeting with Paul Schiffer, where your information is protected by the attorney-client privilege, that he will discuss potential strategies that are tailored to your circumstances. Call today to set up a meeting with Paul in his office. Be sure to bring any paperwork or other information you have about your case or an investigation.