Sex crimes in Dallas, Texas, refer to any violation or illegal act of a sexual nature that may have an actual or threatened physical injury, mental harm, or emotional damage on the victim. Examples of these offenses include sexual assault, prohibited sexual conduct, child pornography, and solicitation of prostitution.
These crimes, especially violent sex crimes, are treated more severely by law, and prosecutors pursue convictions more aggressively compared to other non-violent and non-sexual crimes. Moreover, charges and convictions also tend to have more severe penalties and societal damage than most other types of criminal cases.
According to the Texas Annual Crime Report, the Dallas Police Department recorded 569 rape cases in 2020, a 28.61% fall in offenses compared to the 2019 statistics. However, there were only 59 arrests made and 64 cleared cases in 2020, according to the crime by jurisdiction report.
What are the Types of Sex Crimes in Dallas?
In line with the Texas Penal Code, types of sex crimes in Dallas include:
- Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or disabled individual: If an offender (at least 17 years old) commits two or more acts of sexual abuse like sexual assault, trafficking, compelling prostitution, and aggravated kidnapping during 30 or more days against a victim who is disabled or younger than 14 years of age. This crime is a first-degree felony and punishable by imprisonment for life or between 25 and 99 years.
- Indecency with a child: Engaging in sexual contact with a child younger than 17 years of age, knowingly exposing genitals in the presence of a child, or causing a child to expose genitalia. This is a second-degree or third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment from two years to 20 years and fines not exceeding $10,000.
- Invasive visual recording: If a person videotapes, photographs, records through other electronic means, promotes, or transmits a visual image of another person in a changing room or bathroom or a visual image of another person's intimate area without consent. This offense is a state jail felony, punishable by confinement between 180 days and two years and fines not exceeding $10,000.
- Indecent exposure: The intentional exposure of genitalia with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person regardless of who is present. This is a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 180 days and fines not exceeding $2,000.
- Public lewdness: Engaging in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or act of deviate sexual intercourse in a public place or if the person is reckless about alarming or offending other people present. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not exceeding one year and fines not exceeding $4,000.
- Sexual coercion: Threatening, extorting or coercing another person to commit an offense in exchange for monetary benefit, intimate visual materials, or a sexual act. This offense is a state jail felony and shall be punishable by confinement between 180 days and two years with fines not exceeding $10,000.
Other sex crimes in Dallas include:
- Unlawful electronic transmission of sexually explicit visual material
- Homosexual conduct
- Improper relationship between educator and student:
- Unlawful promotion. or disclosure of intimate visual material.
The severity of penalties may also depend on the victim's age and condition. Violent sex crimes and sex crimes involving children are usually treated more severely and have harsher sentences and sanctions than other sex crimes. Note that habitual offenders can receive more severe charges and penalties. For instance, someone with two prior voyeurism convictions shall be given Class B misdemeanor penalties upon the third conviction instead of a Class C misdemeanor.
What Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in Dallas?
The Texas Sex Offender Registration Program requires persons convicted for or adjudicated of the following crimes to register as a sex offenders:
- Continuous sexual abuse of a disabled individual or young child involving sexual assault, bestiality, indecency with a child, aggravated sexual assault, and prohibited sexual conduct
- Aggravated kidnapping with intent to sexually abuse the victim
- Aggravated promotion of prostitution, solicitation of prostitution, possession, compelling prostitution, or promotion of child pornography, and sexual performance by a child
- Burglary with intent to commit a sexual act
- Continuous trafficking of persons
- Trafficking of persons
- Unlawful restraint, kidnapping, and aggravated kidnapping in cases where the victim is younger than 17 years of age or second violation
- Conspiracy, solicitation, or attempt to commit the above crimes
- Online solicitation of a minor
- A violation of state, federal, foreign laws, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice with similar elements of offenses listed above
- A second violation of indecent exposure
- A second violation of federal, foreign, or state laws or the Uniform Code of Military Justice with similar elements of the offense of indecent exposure.
As per the law, non-residents convicted or adjudicated of the following crimes or substantially similar offenses under other laws are required to register as long as the person schools, resides, or works in any municipality located in Texas. However, the sex offender registration program shall not be applicable if a sex crime conviction or adjudication is set aside on appeal or if the offender received a pardon upon subsequent proof of innocence.
Sex offender registration in Dallas, Texas, is done by local law enforcement authorities, and information is gathered in a computerized central database maintained by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The central database is known as the Texas Public Sex Offender Website, which contains the information gathered during registration, such as:
- Registrant’s full name and aliases
- Demographic details like race, sex, age, or date of birth
- Physical descriptions like height, hair color, eye color, weight, shoe size
- Residential address or geographical location
- Complete set of fingerprint
- A recent color photograph or electronic digital image
- Offense, conviction, and sentence details
- Victim’s age
- Release, parole, supervision, or discharge status
- License and vehicle registration information
- Social security number
- Home, work, or phone number.
Nevertheless, not all the collected information may be available to the public. The registrant's driver's license number, social security number, and phone number, as well as the employer's details and any personal identifying information on the victim, shall be unavailable to the public. To access public information on registered sex offenders in Dallas, Texas, interested persons may conduct online searches to find sex offenders in their area. Additionally, persons may subscribe to the notification system for alerts on changes concerning registered sex offenders.
However, the DPS cannot guarantee the accuracy of records obtained through the registry. Users may report errors or verify information with the local law enforcement agency where the sex offender resides, or contact the primary or centralized registration authority that registered the offender's details.
What is a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney?
Also referred to as a sex crime lawyer, a sex crime defense attorney is an attorney who represents and advocates for persons accused of sex crimes under the Texas Penal Code. The attorney helps the defendant with the legal process, from assisting during police interrogations to ensuring that an arrest was lawful and defending the accused in court.
Generally, sex crimes attorneys are knowledgeable about sex crimes, specialize in handling sex crime cases, and have experience in navigating complex constitutional law. With extensive resources, investigative teams, insight into proceedings, fine-tuned defense strategy, and mastery of digital and forensic technology, a skilled sex crimes attorney can help the defendant obtain an acquittal if wrongfully charged or mitigate penalties if the accused committed an offense. Furthermore, a sex crimes lawyer shall use every available resource to protect a defendant’s reputation and professional license.
How does a Sex Crime Defense Attorney Work?
A sex crime defense attorney’s job is to resolve cases as favorable as possible. Attorneys do this by helping clients understand their legal options, preparing legal documents, investigating, gathering evidence, and providing aggressive defense. Before a case gets to trial, the defense attorney can convince the prosecutor or law enforcement agency that the case is too weak, bring a motion to suppress evidence, or work out a plea deal in exchange for less severe sentences.
However, if the case gets to trial, the attorney may use the following defense strategies:
- Establish Innocence: Providing a solid alibi, credible evidence to show that the accused was not the perpetrator, or proof to show that the case is one of mistaken identity
- False Accusations or Consent: Demonstrating consent by establishing the parties’ sexual relationship and highlighting inconsistencies with evidence, testimony, or victim’s statements. False accusations may also stem from divorce and custody matters, financial extortion, or an attempt to cover up consensual sex to protect reputation.
- Botched Police Work: If the police mishandled evidence, carried out unlawful arrests, or had other misconducts during investigation or arrest, this may weaken the prosecutor’s case
- Sentence Mitigation: If the accused committed a sex crime, the attorney might appeal for lighter sentences using circumstances like first offense, victim lying about age, settlement with victims, and the accused submitting for voluntary police interviews. However, mistaken age alone is not a sufficient defense in Dallas, Texas.
Other defenses that defense attorneys can use in statutory rape cases include:
- Marital Exemption: Allows sexual acts between a married minor and adult spouse, as long as it is consensual.
- Romeo and Juliet Exception: Allows consensual sexual acts between a minor between 14 and 17 years of age and someone of the opposite sex who is at most three years older than the minor.