In some instances, it is clear that a sexual act was a sexual assault, for example, if the act was forced despite the fact that the victim attempted to fight off the attacker. In other cases, sex acts clearly count as sexual assaults because the victim was clearly unable to give consent because of his or her age or disability. Other times, there is more room for argument about what level of emotional intimidation is required to make a sexual act between two adults legally non-consensual. After all, it is difficult to quantify how much the victim feared negative consequences if he or she refused the defendant’s advances, and, in the absence of written evidence such as text messages or emails, it is difficult to prove what sorts of threats the defendant made and how the victim responded to them. What about sexual acts between consenting adults? Does Texas law actually forbid any such acts?
Lawrence v. Texas
In the early days of the World Wide Web, you probably received some emails forwards about weird laws in various states, and somewhere about rumors about landlocked states where it is illegal to say “boo” to a horse on Sunday, there was probably a piece of trivia about how homosexual sex is illegal in Texas. In fact, sexual contact between consenting adults of the same sex used to be illegal in Texas, as it was in many states. In 1974, Texas revised its sodomy laws so that oral and anal intercourse were legal for heterosexual couples, but “homosexual acts” were still against the law.
Lawrence v. Texas, a United States Supreme Court decision, changed all of that. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled to overturn the 1974 law that criminalized consensual sex between same-sex couples above the legal age of consent. The ruling, which was achieved by a 6-3 majority, also overturned sodomy laws in 13 other states. The ruling came at the time when the debate over the right of same-sex couples to marry was beginning to receive national attention in the media. Today, the Lawrence v. Texas decision is seen as a step toward the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.
The Age of Consent Still Matters
Since the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, Texas can no longer legally prohibit same-sex sexual relationships between people ages 17 and older, but the rules regarding the age of consent still apply. It is illegal for an adult to engage in sexual activity with a minor. For example, a sexual relationship between two young men, ages 20 and 15, would be illegal, but it would be because of the age difference and because the younger teen is below the age of consent, not because they are both male.
Contact Madrid Law About Sex-Related Crimes
United States law holds that a sexual relationship between consenting adults is legal and does not fall into the same category as sexual assault or statutory rape. Mario Madrid has experience defending people charged with sex-related offenses. Contact Madrid Law in Houston for a consultation if you are facing charges of sexual assault or another sex-related crime.