An Austin Fire Department arson investigator has been accused of using his position of authority to sexually assault a woman. He now faces charges of sexual assault, misuse of official information, abuse of official capacity, and official oppression.
This case illustrates the tragic consequences of a sexual assault for everyone involved.
Lieutenant Marcus Reed allegedly lured a woman into his city-owned truck in March, drove her to a mall parking lot, and assaulted her. He had pulled up behind her, emergency lights flashing, and told her to get in. The woman had a pending criminal charge at the time of the assault. She cooperated with Reed’s demand in part because she was trying to follow her pretrial bail conditions and didn’t want to get into trouble.
Reed’s criminal behavior was not over with the sexual assault. He logged into the Austin Police Department’s secured reporting database and searched the woman’s information hours after the alleged assault.
The victim was later able to pick Reed out of a police lineup with 99% certainty.
Because Reed allegedly abused his official capacity to commit the assault, he faces the most severe possible sentence for the offense: life in prison.
Most sexual assault defendants do not face such a serious consequence.
But even typical penalties for sexual assault in Texas are quite severe, with life-changing consequences even after the sentence has been served.
Let’s take a look into sexual assault sentencing in Texas, as well as some of the aggravating and mitigating factors that may increase or decrease the severity of sentencing.
Sentencing and Penalties for Sexual Assault in Texas
Sexual assault is typically charged as a second-degree felony in Texas. This is punishable by 2-20 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. However, the crime may be charged as a first-degree felony if the victim was a person who the defendant would be prohibited from marrying (e.g. a relative). This is punishable by 5-99 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony in Texas, which is punishable by 5-99 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The presence of certain additional aggravating factors such as the use of a deadly weapon or a very young minor victim may lead to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.
Aggravating and Mitigating factors for Texas Sexual Assault
There are a number of aggravating factors that can lead to enhanced sentencing for sexual assault, a few of which we already mentioned:
- Minor victim
- Minor victim younger than six years old at the time of the assault
- Using or threatening the victim with a deadly weapon
- Use of physical force or coercion
- Serious physical injury of the victim
- Attempting to kill the victim
- Defendant is a repeat offender
- Defendant was particularly cruel or vindictive towards the victim
- Victim is related to the defendant
- Defendant is a parent or guardian of the victim
- Defendant has a supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim
- Victim is physically helpless, mentally defective, or mentally incapacitated
There are also a few mitigating factors that can lead to less-severe sentencing:
- First-time offender
- Defendant committed the assault under great personal stress or duress
- Offense was committed in a way that was unlikely to result in anyone being physically hurt
- In some cases, if the defendant is genuinely remorseful
Remember, these are just the criminal penalties.
A sex offense conviction will impact your entire future, including the stigma of having a criminal record and the requirement in many cases to register as a sex offender.
If you are facing charges for sexual assault or another sex crime, retain a knowledgeable and experienced Texas criminal defense attorney with a track record of success in these types of cases. Serious charges require a serious lawyer who will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.