Legal Rights of Sexual Assault Survivors in Texas
- Adult survivors of sexual assault have the legal right to decide whether to file a police report or third-party information report.
- Survivors may use a pseudonym and have their address and phone number kept out of all files relating to the case (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 57.02 - Jane Doe law).
- A law enforcement agency that requests a medical examination of a victim of an alleged sexual assault must pay for the forensic part of the exam (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 56.06). This will not cover expenses such as emergency birth control and/or medications; these may be covered under Crime Victim’s Compensation.
- Survivors may apply for Crime Victim’s Compensation to pay for expenses related to the crime such as medical bills, lost wages, and certain other expenses (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 56). Survivors must cooperate with law enforcement to be eligible for these benefits.
- Law enforcement cannot require a survivor filing a report of sexual abuse/assault to submit to a lie detector test. They must inform the survivor that a complaint may not be dismissed solely because the survivor did not take the polygraph exam nor on the basis of the exam results if the survivor chooses to take the exam (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 15.051).
- If the offender is indicted for the crime, the survivor can receive notice of HIV/AIDS test results of the offender (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 21.31).
- The survivor’s safety must be considered when bail is set for the offender (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 21.31).
- A survivor of sexual assault may apply for a protective order without regard to the relationship between the victim and the alleged offender (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 7A).
- Survivors may make a written request and be notified of all legal proceedings (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 56.08).
- Survivors may write a “victim impact statement” and have the information in it considered during punishment and parole (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 56.03).
- Survivors may receive notice of any parole proceedings and defendant’s release from prison after notice (TX Code of Criminal Procedure 56.02(7).
- A survivor can choose to file a civil lawsuit against the offender to seek compensation for physical and emotional damages. The standard of proof is lower than for criminal prosecution, but the survivor must have their own attorney. Victims Initiative for Counseling Advocacy & Restoration of the Southwest (VICARS) provides free legal help for victims of sexual assault in Texas. They can be reached toll free at (888) 343-4414 or www.tlsc.org. Private attorneys may be retained and they will often take on these cases if the offender has assets or money.
Source: Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)
This page was updated on Aug 19, 2016.