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Texas court rules sex crime law unconstitutional

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Being accused of a sex crime in Texas is a serious and potentially life altering experience. Specifically, the consequences of a sex crime conviction in the state of Texas are great and can include jail time, hefty fines as well as damage to reputation. Yet, to be convicted of a crime, there must be a constitutionally valid law in place that is proven to have been violated. A recent Texas criminal court appellate decision just ruled a sex offense law to be unconstitutional for vagueness.

The recently invalidated law made it illegal for an individual 17 years of age or older to intentionally communicate in a sexually explicit manner with any person who represents himself to be a minor. While the court, per its opinion, is not opposed to the idea behind the law, the actual provision is so overbroad it risks undercutting constitutionally protected speech. The court further held such law was not narrowly drawn to achieve only the legitimate purpose of protecting children from sexual abuse.

When it comes to the freedom of speech, courts often use a difficult to pass test called strict scrutiny in determining whether a law is valid. Because speech is such a valued and precious freedom, courts are careful to uphold any laws which tend to prohibit the freedom of speech. The strict scrutiny test is very hard to survive as can be demonstrated by the recent criminal appellate court ruling.

When facing a sex crime charge in Texas, it is important to be aware of one's rights and obtain adequate legal representation. A proper criminal defense will assert helpful arguments, prohibit irrelevant testimony be introduced into the court and last point out laws that may be unconstitutional.

Source: The Dallas Observer, "Texas' Highest Coriminal Court Overturns Ban on "Titillating Talk" With Minors," Eric Nicolson, Oct. 30, 2013.

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