Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student
The age of consent in Texas is 17, meaning that a person is legally prohibited from having sex with anybody who is 16 years of age or younger (unless those people are married). In 2003, the state of Texas also enacted a statute that made it a felony offense for any employee of any given school district to have sex with any student in that district, regardless of that student’s age.
The improper relationship law was amended in 2011 to include students who attended any school in the employee’s district. Since this statute applies to all students, educators and school employees can be charged with criminal offenses for engaging in consensual sex with legal adults who are 18 years of age or older.
Attorney for Improper Educator-Student Relationship in Austin, TX
If you are teacher in Central Texas and you think that you could be under investigation or you were already arrested for an alleged improper relationship with a student, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal counsel. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett aggressively defends clients charged with sex crimes in Austin, Pflugerville, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Sunset Valley, Lago Vista, West Lake Hills, and many other surrounding areas of Travis County.
Austin criminal defense lawyer Kevin Bennett can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (512) 476-4626 today to have our attorney review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Improper Relationship Between Educators and Students in Travis County
- What types of conduct can result in a teacher being charged with this crime?
- Are there any defenses against these charges?
- Where can I find more information about improper relationships between educators and students in Austin?
Penalties for Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code § 21.12(a), an employee of a public or private primary or secondary school commits the offense of improper relationship between educator and student if he or she:
- Engages in sexual contact (any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person), sexual intercourse (any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ), or deviate sexual intercourse (any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person, or the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object) with a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school at which the employee works;
- Holds a certificate or permit issued by the State Board for Educator Certification or is required to be licensed by a state agency under the Texas Education Code and engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person the employee knows is:
- enrolled in a public primary or secondary school in the same school district as the school at which the employee works; or
- a student participant in an educational activity that is sponsored by a school district or a public or private primary or secondary school, if students enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school are the primary participants in the activity and the employee provides education services to those participants; or
- Engages in online solicitation of a minor with a person the employee knows is a person enrolled in a public primary or secondary school in the same school district as the school at which the employee works, or a student participant in an educational activity that is sponsored by a school district or a public or private primary or secondary school, if students enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school are the primary participants in the activity and the employee provides education services to those participants.
Defenses Against Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student Charges in Austin
Texas Penal Code § 21.12(b-1) establishes the following affirmative defenses to prosecution for improper relationship between educator and student:
- The alleged offender was the spouse of the enrolled student at the time of the alleged offense; or
- The alleged offender was not more than three years older than the enrolled person and, at the time of the offense, the alleged offender and the enrolled person were in a relationship that began before the alleged offender’s employment at a public or private primary or secondary school.
Affirmative defenses in Texas must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the claim is supported by more than half of the evidence or the “more likely than not” standard. Preponderance of the evidence is a much lower standard to satisfy than the proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a prosecutor must satisfy in order to obtain a conviction.
Texas Educator-Student Relationship Resources
Find Texas teachers accused of impropriety with a student — In February 2017, the Austin American-Statesman published the results of an investigation that determined 686 teachers in Texas permanently lost their teaching licenses following allegations of impropriety with a student. About half of these teachers were charged with a crime, and nearly 80 percent surrendered their licenses in lieu of disciplinary proceedings. On this website, you can search for teachers by name or by district.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) — The TEA is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education. Visit this website to learn about the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC), which disciplines educators for misconduct. The website also has answers to frequently asked questions about educator discipline and superintendent reporting of educator misconduct.
The Law Office of Kevin Bennett | Austin Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student Defense Lawyer
Are you a teacher in Central Texas who might be under investigation or has already been arrested for an alleged improper relationship with a student? You should refuse to make any kind of statement to authorities until you have contacted The Law Office of Kevin Bennett.
Kevin Bennett is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Austin who represents individuals all over Travis County, including such Austin neighborhoods as West Campus, North Campus, South Austin, Travis Heights, Hyde Park, West Austin, Tarrytown, Oak Hill, Barton Creek, Andersen Mill, Manchaca, and many others. You can have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (512) 476-4626 or submit an online contact form to receive a free initial consultation.