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Improper Relationship Between an Educator and a Student
In the digital age, students of various ages have a multitude of ways in which they can contact and communicate with their teachers outside of the traditional classroom setting. Interactions on social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter can indeed be helpful for addressing academic concerns. With such constant interaction, however, it can be easy to misinterpret the communications between teachers and students, leading to criminal charges.
In 2003, Texas enacted an improper relationship between educator and student 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. Eight years later, the law was amended to include students who attended any school in an employee’s district.
Attorney for Improper Relationship Between an Educator and Student in Conroe, TX
If you are a teacher in in Montgomery County or Harris County who was arrested or could be under investigation for allegedly having an improper relationship with a student, it will be in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. Evans & Powell, PLLC aggressively defends clients accused of sexual crimes in Patton Village, The Woodlands, Pinehurst, Shenandoah, Willis, Oak Ridge North, and many surrounding areas of Montgomery County and Harris County.
Sean Evans and Frank Powell are experienced criminal defense lawyers in Conroe who can fight to help you possibly have your criminal charges minimized or completely eliminated. Call (936) 622-2000 right now to have our attorneys review your case and discuss all of your legal questions during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Improper Educator-Student Relationships in Montgomery County
- What constitutes an improper relationship between an educator and student in Texas?
- How long can people be sentenced to prison if they are convicted?
- Where can I find more information about the improper relationship between an educator and student statute in Conroe?
Under Texas Penal Code § 21.12(a), an employee of a public or private primary or secondary schools commits improper relationship between educator and student if he or she:
- engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a student who is enrolled in at the same public or private primary or secondary school at which the alleged offender works;
- holds a certificate or permit issued by the State Board for Educator Certification or is a person who 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 student they know is enrolled in a public primary or secondary school in the same school district as the school at which they work 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 alleged offender provides education services to those participants; or
- engages in conduct described by Texas Penal Code § 33.021 (online solicitation of a minor) with a student who is enrolled in at the same public or private primary or secondary school at which the alleged offender works, or a student the alleged offender knows is enrolled in a public primary or secondary school in the same school district as the school at which they work 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, regardless of the age of that student.
Texas Penal Code § 21.12(b) establishes that an improper relationship between an educator and student offense is a second-degree felony. A conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Two affirmative defenses—legal claims that excuse or justify otherwise unlawful conduct—to prosecution established under Texas Penal Code § 21.12(b-1) include:
- 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.
Alleged offenders can face these types of charges as the result of parents misunderstanding the nature of conversations between teachers and their children or false allegations made by certain students. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will be able to identify the best possible defenses in these cases and make it extremely difficult for a prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) — The TEA is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education in the state of Texas. On this website, you can learn more about disciplinary rules, disciplinary policy guidelines, and disciplinary actions taken against Texas educators. You can also find certification information and answers to frequently asked questions.
Collins v. State, (App. 11 Dist. 2015) 479 S.W.3d 533 — April Collins was charged by indictment with four counts of improper relationship between educator and student, but she filed a pleading in the trial court seeking to quash the indictment and obtain habeas corpus relief based upon her contentions that the indictment was faulty and that the statute under which she was indicted is unconstitutional. The trial court held a hearing and denied the relief requested. Following the rationale of the Court of Criminal Appeals in Ex parte Lo, 424 S.W.3d 10, 14 (Tex.Crim.App.2013), however, the Eleventh Court of Appeals held that Texas Penal Code § 21.12(a)(3) is unconstitutionally broad insofar as it incorporates the unconstitutionally broad Texas Penal Code § 33.021(b), affirming the order of the trial court in part, and reversing it in part. The Court of Appeals remanded the cause to the trial court with instructions to dismiss Counts I, II, and III of the indictment, but allowing it to proceed under Count IV of the indictment.
Evans & Powell, PLLC | Conroe Improper Relationship Between an Educator and Student Defense Lawyer
Are you a teacher in in Montgomery County or Harris County who might be under investigation or has already been arrested for an alleged improper relationship with a student? Regardless of how confident you are in your innocence, you should still refuse to speak to authorities until you have first contacted Evans & Powell, PLLC.
Conroe criminal defense attorneys Sean Evans and Frank Powell represent individuals in communities throughout Montgomery County and Harris County, such as Porter Heights, Magnolia, Woodbranch, Panorama Village, Splendora, Cut and Shoot, and several others. You can have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (936) 622-2000 or fill out an online contact form to receive a free initial consultation.