Improper Relationship with Student
In the age of social media, teachers have far more ways to interact with their students outside the classroom. While such technological advances can be used for mutually beneficial causes relating to schoolwork, increased avenues of communication have also led to more educators facing criminal charges for allegedly having improper relationships with students.
While most states prosecute inappropriate sexual relationships between teachers and students under statutory rape laws, Texas enacted a specific improper relationship law in 2003 that made it a felony offense for school employees to have sexual contact with students. It is not uncommon for educators to face criminal charges as the result of false accusations or misinterpretation by overprotective parents.
Lawyer for Improper Teacher-Student Relationships in Texas
If you are an educator in Texas who has been arrested or believes that you are under investigation for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student, we recommend you avoid making any kind of statement to authorities without legal representation. Goldstein & Orr has been defending clients all over Bexar County against criminal charges since 1968.
Gerry Goldstein and Cynthia Orr have both been presidents of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA). Van Hilley is a former president of the San Antonio Bar Association. Don Flanary is currently a member of the Board of Directors for both the TCDLA and the San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (SACDLA).
Our San Antonio sex crime attorneys to proving the innocence of our clients and fight to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have our lawyers review your case by calling (210) 226-1463 to schedule a completely free initial consultation.
Overview of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student in Bexar County
- When can teachers be arrested for allegedly committing this crime?
- Are there any defenses against these charges?
- Where can I find more information about teacher-student relationships?
- Issues with the Texas Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student Law
Under Texas Penal Code § 21.12, employees of public or private primary or secondary schools can be charged with this crime if they do any of the following:
- Engage 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;
- Hold a certificate or permit issued by the State Board for Educator Certification or 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
- Engage in 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.
Improper relationship between educator and student is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. It is important to note that this law applies to students of all ages, meaning a teacher can be charged with this crime even if the student is 17 years of age or older—the legal age of consent in Texas.
Texas Penal Code § 21.12(b-1) does establish two affirmative defenses against improper relationship charges. Alleged offenders cannot be convicted of this crime if they:
- Were the spouse of the enrolled student at the time of the alleged offense; or
- Were not more than three years older than the enrolled student and, at the time of the offense, the alleged offender and the enrolled student were in a relationship that began before the alleged offender was hired by the public or private primary or secondary school.
Many teachers can also be the victims of false accusations—either by students or concerned parents. In such cases, it is imperative for an alleged offender to have an experienced attorney who can conduct a thorough investigation of the claims and work to prove that person’s innocence.
The Texas Penal Code has criminalized sexual relationships between teachers and their students regardless of the age. In effect, criminalizing sex between consenting adults. Texas Penal Code §21.12, Improper Relationship between Educator and Student is a law that seeks to criminalize all forms of sexual conduct and intercourse between employees of primary and secondary schools and any students enrolled regardless of age.
In the Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 the Court held that adult citizens have a fundamental right to have sex with whomever they wish. That case involved an unconstitutional sodomy law but set forth important freedoms that we all share regarding our adult sexual partners. The improper relationship statute violates that important freedom of choice. Don Flanary and his team are working to overturn this unconstitutional statute.
Professional boundaries with students | Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) — With more than 50,000 members statewide, TCTA is considered the leading teacher association in Texas. This nonprofit, independent professional association provides members with professional liability insurance coverage up to $10,000 for alleged criminal actions of a sexual nature involving minors. Visit this section of the TCTA website to learn more about what the organization’s 2015-16 Survival Guide says about relationships with students
A Closer Look at the Texas High School Student-Teacher Sex Epidemic — You can read this February 4, 2015, article in Texas Monthly magazine examining the improper relationship law. The article cites a survey by Houston PR firm Drive West Communications that found Texas has the most incidents of illegal teacher-student sex of any state in the nation as well as Texas Tribune data that shows the 78 people imprisoned in Texas prisons on improper relationship charges was more than the number of offenders “behind bars for criminally negligent homicide, disarming a police officer, or injury to the elderly.”
Improper Teacher-Student Relationship in San Antonio, Texas
Are you a teacher in Texas who believes that you may be the target of a criminal investigation or have you already been arrested for allegedly having an improper relationship with a student? You should immediately contact Goldstein & Orr for legal assistance.
Our criminal defense attorneys in San Antonio aggressively defend people throughout Bexar County accused of sex crimes. You can receive a complete evaluation of your case when you call (210) 226-1463 or complete an online contact form to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.