Bellaire Sex Crimes Lawyer

Attorneys Defending the Rights of Those Charged with Sex Crimes in Bellaire

In Texas, sex crimes can be prosecuted under state or federal law, depending on specific factors. Understanding what differentiates a state crime from a federal crime in the context of sex offenses is important, especially if you have been charged with one of these offenses. If you have found yourself in this unfortunate predicament, the skilled lawyers with Bennett & Bennett can defend you and your rights.

State vs. Federal Jurisdiction: The Basics

Jurisdictional authority is important when it comes to sex crimes, as it dictates whether a crime will be charged under state or federal law. Here is what you need to know:

  • State crimes - Generally, a sex crime is classified as a state crime if it violates the laws of Texas and occurs within state boundaries. The Texas Penal Code outlines various sex offenses, such as sexual assault, indecent exposure, and child exploitation, which are prosecuted in state courts.
  • Federal crimes - A sex crime becomes a federal crime if it violates federal statutes or involves interstate elements such as crossing state lines, using federal property, or engaging in conduct that affects interstate or foreign commerce. Federal sex crimes are prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys and are adjudicated in federal court.

Factors That Determine Jurisdiction

The location of the crime plays a significant role in deciding jurisdiction:

  • State jurisdiction - State authorities typically handle sex crimes that occur entirely within Texas. These include offenses like sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and possession of child pornography when confined to state boundaries.
  • Federal jurisdiction - Crimes that occur on federal property, such as military bases, national parks, or federal buildings, fall under federal jurisdiction. An example would be a sexual assault committed on a military base.

Use of the Internet and Technology

Like location, technology and the internet can influence state or federal jurisdiction:

  • Cybercrimes - When a sex crime involves the use of the internet or digital communication, federal jurisdiction often applies due to the interstate nature of the internet. Federal agencies like the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security frequently handle cases involving child pornography distribution, online solicitation of minors, and human trafficking facilitated through digital means.
  • Cross-state communication - Any sexual misconduct that involves communication across state lines, such as a person in Texas soliciting a minor in another state online, can be prosecuted federally.

Sex and Human Trafficking

State and federal law play a role in prosecuting sex trafficking and other forms of human trafficking:

  • Interstate human trafficking - Federal law governs human trafficking, especially if it involves crossing state boundaries. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) provides federal jurisdiction over trafficking offenses, allowing federal authorities to prosecute offenders who transport victims across state lines.
  • Local trafficking - While federal laws cover interstate trafficking, human trafficking within Texas can be prosecuted under state laws. Texas has stringent statutes to address traffickers operating solely within the state.

Cooperation Between State and Federal Authorities

Joint investigations are made possible through:

  • Task forces - Due to the complex nature of many sex crimes, state and federal agencies often collaborate through task forces. For instance, the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force includes local and federal law enforcement working together to investigate and prosecute online sex crimes against children.
  • Resource sharing - Cooperation ensures the sharing of resources and knowledge and provides an efficient approach to combating sex crimes that might involve multiple jurisdictions.

Contact Our Bellaire, TX Sex Crimes Lawyer

Facing sex crimes charges can feel like your life is over. However, with strategic legal guidance, you can battle these serious charges. Whether you are facing state or federal sex crimes charges, our trusted lawyers at Bennett & Bennett are ready to fight for you. Contact us at 713-224-1747 to schedule your confidential consultation.

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