Texas Teacher Sexual Misconduct Defense Attorney
Texas Teacher Sexual Misconduct Defense Attorney
Are you a teacher, counselor, or administrator who has been accused of a sex crime involving a student? It’s a serious allegation that can damage your career and your future unless you act quickly.
Throughout the last few decades, numerous stories have emerged of teachers facing criminal charges for having sexual relationships with their students. It has become such a problem that Texas lawmakers created a new statute in 2003 addressing the issue. Today, schools are required to report incidents of sexual abuse of students by teachers, coaches, counselors, and other school district employees.
Although both parties may consent to sexual activity, Texas law does not recognize that consent is valid when there is a teacher-student relationship involved. If you are convicted, you will lose your teaching license, which will affect your ability to find work, and may even go to prison and/or be subject to registration as a sex offender.
If you are employed as a public or private school teacher and facing allegations or charges of misconduct with a student, it is imperative you seek help from a teacher sexual misconduct defense attorney immediately.
Texas Laws on Teacher Sexual Misconduct
Sexual relationships between primary or secondary school teachers and their students are prohibited by the Texas Penal Code. For legal purposes, educators include a wide range of employees of a school or school district, such as:
- Guidance counselors
- School administrators
Educators may not engage in sexual activity with students enrolled in the same school district or who are participating in activities sponsored by the educator’s school or district. The act of online solicitation of a student also falls under the definition of an improper relationship when committed by an educator.
An educator who has an improper relationship with a student commits a second-degree felony. If convicted, you could serve two to 20 years in prison and pay a fine of up to $10,000, even if it’s your first offense. Aside from these criminal penalties, you are also likely to face disciplinary measures from your school, the school district, and even the Texas State Board of Education.
Between 2010 and 2016, 686 Texas teachers lost their licenses after improper behavior with a student. These statistics reported nationwide, led Governor Greg Abbott to sign a law requiring school principals to let their district superintendents know if a teacher is fired or resigns after sexual misconduct allegations. Another law, enacted in 2019, requires superintendents to report when a non-certified employee resigns or is fired after being accused of improper relationships with students.
How to Protect Yourself If You Are Accused of Teacher Sexual Misconduct
You have the right to remain silent, and when you’re a Texas educator accused of misconduct with a student, it’s vital that you use it.
You are not required to give the police a statement, no matter what they tell you. If they persist, be polite but tell them that you don’t want to make any statements until you’ve spoken to a teacher sexual misconduct defense attorney. Speaking to the police will not likely help your case, and you should never give a statement without consulting an attorney first.
Throughout the years, Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC has assisted many clients with difficult police interrogations. We do not always recommend consenting to an interrogation, but sometimes it is in your best interest to stop an investigation from progressing. In some instances, we have communicated with law enforcement on our client’s behalf instead of subjecting them to direct questioning.
When you hire a criminal defense lawyer from our firm, we will listen to your story, evaluate the evidence against you, and negotiate with the prosecution for the best outcome. In cases where the evidence is especially fragile, it may be possible to get the charges dropped. If your case does proceed, your defense attorney can fight to protect your future by hiring expert witnesses, throwing a question mark over your intent during your communication with the student, or negotiating a conclusion that lets you avoid jail time or sex offender registration.
While no outcome is guaranteed in a criminal proceeding, working with a criminal defense attorney gives you the best chance of successfully proving your innocence or putting a serious mistake behind you.
Defenses to Teacher Sexual Misconduct Charges in Texas
If you are facing misconduct charges, you may feel you have already been convicted before entering the courtroom. However, there are two affirmative defenses that can help you get the charges dismissed. Under Texas law, a sexual offense has not taken place if the relationship involves two consenting adults and one of the following is true;
- The student is your spouse
- You were less than three years older than the student and your relationship with them existed before you worked at the school or in the district.
Even if these defenses don’t apply to your case, the prosecution can only secure a conviction if they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had sexual contact with the student and acted with criminal intent. A common defense strategy is to challenge the evidence of a sexual relationship or to reveal the alleged victim’s ulterior motives, such as revenge or payback for poor grades.
What if the Student is Old Enough to Consent to Sex?
Unlike some sex crimes, the age of the student is not a defense to charges of teacher sexual misconduct. This means that even if the student is of legal age and the sex is consensual, you can still be charged with a felony if you’re working for the same school or district that the student attends. It should also be noted that the law applies at all times- not just during school hours- and in all places- not only on school property.
Does the Teacher Sexual Misconduct Law Also Apply to Colleges and Universities?
No. This law only applies to sexual relationships between educators and students in Texas primary and secondary schools. It does not apply to those at state colleges and universities, which typically have their own internal policies on these kinds of relationships.
Unless there is an absence of consent, relationships between professors and college students are not illegal in Texas. However, campus sexual assaults are vigorously prosecuted, so if you’re accused of having sex with a student against their will, retain a criminal defense attorney right away.
Get a Free Consultation With One of Our Teacher Sex Crime Defense Attorneys
If you are being charged with teacher sexual misconduct, it is critical that you contact a criminal lawyer who knows how to successfully defend these types of charges. At Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC, we have years of experience representing clients in state and federal courts, including those accused of sex offenses. We always aim to preserve your dignity and protect your rights at all stages.
All of our criminal defense lawyers understand the urgency of the situation and will build a defense that protects you from criminal charges, helps you avoid having to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, and helps you protect your career as an educator from being ruined. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC today.