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Texas Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

For the most part, consensual sexual activity is none of the government's business. Sexual assault, rape, and other such sex crimes all involve non-consensual sex and are thus considered serious violations. However, there are some situations when consensual sex crosses the line and either endangers another's well-being or disrupts the public.

This article provides a brief overview of Texas laws prohibiting certain consensual and non-consensual sexual acts. Keep in mind that "consent" is a legal term defined by state criminal law. For example, it is impossible for anyone under the age of 17 to consent to sexual activity in Texas.

History of Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity

One of the most famous cases to come out of Texas is Lawrence v. Texas (2003). In that case, two men were convicted for having sex in a private home, under the Texas anti-sodomy law. The case went to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it was struck down. As a result, all anti-sodomy laws in the United States are considered unconstitutional and unenforceable. However, a decade before, in the case City of Dallas v. England (1993), the sodomy statute was held unconstitutional in the state of Texas. Regardless, any sodomy laws in Texas today are unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.

Texas Laws Prohibiting Certain Consensual Sexual Acts: At a Glance

The following table lists the main provisions of Texas prohibited consensual sexual activity laws, while additional background information follows. See FindLaw's Sex Crimes section for more information.

Sodomy Laws Applicable to

The sodomy statute in Texas was held unconstitutional in City of Dallas v. England (1993) and Lawrence v. Texas(2003).

Penalty for Sodomy

There is no such statute in Texas.

HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 21.31, upon the indictment for a felony sex offense or upon request of a victim of an alleged sex offense, the court may order HIV or other STI testing of the offender.

Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts

  • Public lewdness: Under Tex. Pen. Code § 21.07, public lewdness is punished as a class A misdemeanor.
  • Indecent exposure: Under Tex. Pen. Code § 21.08, indecent exposure is punished as a class B misdemeanor.
  • Disorderly conduct: Under Tex. Pen. Code § 42.01, disorderly conduct is punished as a class C misdemeanor.
  • Prostitution: Under Tex. Pen. Code § 43.02 et seq., the penalties for prostitution vary from class B misdemeanor to first-degree felony depending on the individual's involvement in the sex-for-hire operation.

Other Crimes Relating to Non-consensual Sex Acts

  • Sexual assault: Sexual assault is typically a second-degree felony in Texas with a sentence of two to twenty years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. However, the crime can be elevated depending on the facts of the case. For more information, visit FindLaw's article on Texas Sexual Assault Laws.
  • Aggravated sexual assault: This crime is a first-degree felony with a minimum prison sentence of 25 years. See FindLaw's articles on Sexual Assault Penalties and Sentencing for more information.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Texas Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Texas Criminal Case

Criminal prosecution for a sex crime can have serious consequences for a defendant. If you have been arrested for a sex crime, you may consider contacting an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you still have the right to counsel and the public defender's office in your county may be able to assist you.

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