Difference between sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault

Aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault are two distinct offenses in Texas. Attorney Letty Martinez discusses the difference in this short video.

What is sexual assault?

Generally speaking, sexual assault involves allegations of specific sexual acts against another person without their consent. In adult cases, a sexual assault can become aggravated, which means it bumps the punishment up from 2 to 20 years in prison to 5 to 99 years or life in prison.

What is aggravated sexual assault?

In order to get a sexual assault bumped up to an aggravated sexual assault, there has to be an aggravating factor present. There are a number of things that can make it aggravated.

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For example, if there is a deadly weapon used; if there is serious bodily injury caused; if there is an attempt to cause the death of the individual; if the victim is disabled or elderly, meaning that they’re 65 years or older; if the victim is placed in fear of a threat of death, serious bodily injury. Trafficking or kidnapping can also make it aggravated. If there are two or more people that act together to sexually assault one victim, that’s another aggravating factor. If there are certain types of date rape drugs used, that can make it aggravated.

When we’re talking about sexual assaults involving a child, meaning a child under the age of 17, it then becomes aggravated if the child is under the age of 14. Then, if the child is younger than six years of age, that is an aggravated sexual assault of a child, but the minimum is no longer five years. It bumps up to 25 years minimum.

Aggravated Sex Assault in Texas


Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese