Understanding Indecent Assault Statutes in Texas

Some of us are tactile people. We might show our emotions to different situations through touch – a pat on the back or a squeeze of the hand. And although such displays are generally acceptable, in some instances, contact with another person can be considered a crime. So what raises a simple touch from a show of joy or sympathy to a chargeable offense? It’s when that contact is unwanted and done with the intent to sexually gratify someone else.

Texas’s Indecent Assault Law

What makes assault indecent? In Texas, touching another person without their permission and for sexual gratification is prohibited by the State’s indecent assault law.

Texas Penal Code 22.012 provides that it is illegal to touch any of the following of another person without their consent:

  • Anus
  • Breast
  • Any part of the genitals

It is also an offense to make contact with another person using the actor’s or any other individual’s body parts. For instance, if a woman brushed her breasts against another person without their permission and the woman did it to sexually gratify herself or an onlooker, she could be charged under this law.

Touching Intimate Parts Isn’t the Only Thing Prohibited

Although Texas’s indecent assault law prohibits the unwanted touching of another person’s intimate parts or touching someone with one’s own intimate parts, such contact isn’t the only thing that’s illegal.

A person can also violate this statute if they expose someone else’s intimate parts, including:

  • Genitals
  • Pubic area
  • Anus
  • Buttocks
  • Female areola

This means, for example, that if someone walked up to a woman and pulled up her top, knowing it would expose her bare breasts, and they did it to sexually gratify themselves, they would be charged with an offense.

Additionally, making someone, without their consent, come in contact with another person’s bodily fluid, such as their semen, vaginal fluid, saliva, urine, or feces, is prohibited.

What’s the Difference Between Indecent Assault and Sexual Assault in TX?

Both indecent assault and sexual assault laws are concerned with non-consensual sexual contact, but they are separate crimes. Indecent assault is considered a lesser offense because it prohibits groping. Sexual assault, on the other hand, is concerned with the unlawful sexual penetration of another person and is a felony.

What Are the Penalties for Indecent Assault in TX?

In September of 2019, Texas lawmakers changed the State’s indecent assault law. Previously, the offense was charged as a Class C misdemeanor. If a person was convicted of the offense, they would be subject only to a $500 fine and could not be incarcerated for the offense. After the law was amended, the crime became a Class A misdemeanor. In addition to a $4,000 fine, a person found guilty of this offense could be sentenced to jail for up to 1 year.

If you were charged with an assaultive offense or sex crime in San Antonio, reach out to LaHood Norton Law Group to get 70+ years of combined experience on your side. Call us at (210) 797-7700 or submit an online contact form today.