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Houston Improper Teacher-Student Relationship Criminal Attorney

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student

The Texas Penal Code statute of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student was recently changed. As of Sept. 1, 2017, it is now a felony for any employee of any school district to have sex with any student, regardless of whether they are in the same district–even if the student is 18 years of age or older. This statute also prohibits online solicitation of a minor between any employee of any school district with any student, regardless of the age of that student.

In this modern age of electronic communication and social media, students have far more access to teachers and school district employees than even before. As a result, online communications between educators and students are often misunderstood or misconstrued by concerned parents or even other students. This misunderstanding can lead to complaints and investigations into alleged improper relationship when there was no actual misconduct.

Harris County Lawyer for Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student

Are you a teacher in southeast Texas who was arrested or is under investigation for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student? You should have legal representation before speaking to the authorities. Contact the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free consultation.

James Sullivan is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston who represent clients accused of sex crimes in Houston, Spring, Cypress, Katy, Pasadena, Conroe, The Woodlands, Hempstead, Waller, Richmond, Sugar Land, Pearland and Angleton. Call (281) 546-6428 for a thorough and honest evaluation of your case.

What is the law of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student?

According to Texas Penal Code § 21.12(a), an employee of a public or private primary or secondary school commits this crime if the employee:

  • Engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school;
  • holds a position described by Section 21.003(a) or (b), Education Code, regardless of whether the employee holds the appropriate certificate, permit, license, or credential for the position, and engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person the employee knows is:
    1. enrolled in a public primary or secondary school; or
    2. 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; or
  • Engages in online solicitation of a minor with a person the employee knows is a student enrolled in a public primary or secondary school, 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, regardless of the age of that student.

Texas Penal Code § 21.01 provides the following definitions relating to this statute:

“Deviate sexual intercourse” means 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.

“Sexual contact” means 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” means any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.

Are there any Affirmative Defenses to this crime?

Yes. According to Texas Penal Code § 21.12(b-1), it is an affirmative defense to prosecution for improper relationship between educator and student if the employee:

  • was the spouse of the enrolled student at the time of the offense; or
  • was not more than three years older than the enrolled student and, at the time of the offense, the employee and the enrolled student were in a relationship that began before the employee was hired by the public or private primary or secondary school.

Punishment for Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student in Houston

Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student is a felony of the second degree punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Defending Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student cases

It is certainly true that some accusations of impropriety are exaggerated or completely false. An experienced criminal defense attorney should always look for inconsistencies in an alleged victim’s statements, biases or motives of an alleged victim or other evidentiary flaws that could result in criminal charges being minimized or dismissed.

Where can I learn more about these cases in Texas?

The Austin American-Statesman did a recent article about the rising number of these types of crimes. The journalists requested and received from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) the names of teachers who surrendered their teaching licenses or whose licenses were revoked after being investigated by the TEA for engaging in an improper relationship with a student. According to the TEA data, from January 2010 through December 2016, 686 teachers in Texas permanently lost their teaching licenses following allegations of impropriety with a student. 308 of these teachers, about half, were charged with a crime. The most common charge was the felony of improper relationship between educator and student.

In the one-year period that ended Sept. 1, 2017, the Texas Education Agency opened 302 cases against public teachers who have been accused of having improper relationships with students, a 36 percent increase from 2016.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Houston Improper Teacher Student Relationship Defense Lawyer

If you are teacher in southeast Texas who is under investigation or has already been arrested for an alleged improper relationship with a student, it is extremely important to retain legal counsel. The defense attorneys at James G. Sullivan and Associates defend individuals all over the greater Houston area, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County and Waller County.

Harris County criminal defense attorney James Sullivan will work to help you receive the most favorable outcome to your case. Call (281) 546-6428 for a  free confidential consultation to review your case and discuss your legal options.