The crime of indecent assault is relatively new in Texas. Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill that enacted this law in 2019, claiming the move would patch a gap in current law, allowing for increased penalties for groping.
What is indecent assault?
Indecent assault occurs when a person touches or exposes genitals with the intent of causing sexual desire. Causing another to touch blood, saliva, urine, feces, seminal fluid, or vaginal fluid can also result in allegations of a violation of this law.
In a recent example, police arrested a man for allegedly inappropriately touching a 17-year-old while travelling from Logan to Amarillo. The 17-year-old also states the accused forced them to touch him sexually even after he was told to stop. Upon review of the evidence, the courts found the accused guilty of one count of indecent assault.
What are the penalties for indecent assault?
Before this law, previous laws considered groping an assault by offensive contact, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500. Now, the law allows similar offenses to qualify as indecent assault, a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor can come with up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Generally, the law does not require those convicted of indecent assault to register as a sex offender. However, allegations of a violation of this law can often come with additional allegations. This means the penalties can increase in severity depending on the details of the allegations and the charges the state chooses to move forward within the case.
Penalties in the case noted above included one year in a detention center and two additional years of probation. The case serves as an example of the importance of taking allegations of a violation seriously because the courts will consider the highest level of punishment for these cases.