Improper Educator and Student Relationships

Over the past few years, more teachers have been investigated for having an improper relationship with a student. In fact, the Texas Education Agency recently reported that it investigated 188 improper relationships in 2015. Although teachers are often investigated for this offense, other employees at the school also fall under the statute including a security guard, school resource officer, janitor, or a superintendent.

False allegations are common. School administrators are required to report many of these incidents to law enforcement officers and Child Protective Services. Teachers have the right to be represented by an attorney, upon request, during the investigatory interview when the employee reasonably believes the interview may result in disciplinary action. Many districts in the greater San Antonio area automatically place the teacher or school employee on administrative leave pending the investigation.

After a criminal investigation begins, it is important for the teacher to immediately retain a criminal defense attorney. Anything you say to a law enforcement officers or school employee can be used against you in a criminal prosecution. Never make a statement about the facts of the case until after you have spoken to an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

Attorneys for Improper Student / Teacher Relationships in San Antonio, TX

Under Texas Penal Code Section 21.12 prohibits an improper relationship between a school employee and student. Improper relationship including engaging in sexual contact, communicating in sexually explicit manner, distributing sexually explicit material to a student, and soliciting a student to engage in sexual contact. Crimes for an improper relationship between and educator and student is charged as a second-degree felony. 

Don Flanary represents teachers and certified educators charged under Texas Penal Code Section 21.12 with having an improper relationship with a student in San Antonio and Bexar County, TX, and the surrounding counties including Kendall County, Comal County, Guadalupe County, Wilson County, Atascosa County, Medina County, and Bandera County. 

Call (210) 738-8383 today to discuss your case during a free and confidential consultation. 


Texas Penal Code Section 21.12 - Improper Relationships between a Teacher and Student    

Many of these relationships begin in the classroom but evolve in an improper way through online communications by text, social media, or email. The crime of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student is charged under Texas Penal Code Section 21.12(a)(2). The elements of the crime include:

  • the defendant is an employee of a public or private school;
  • the school is a primary or secondary school;
  • the defendant knowingly solicits a person who is enrolled at the public or private and primary or school at which the employee works and who is not the employee's spouse to meet another person, including the employee;
  • with the intent that the student will engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the employee or the other person; 
  • if the employee makes the solicitation over the Internet, by electronic mail, by text message, or by electronic message service or system, through a specific service or system or through a commercial online service.

Texas law provides that it is not generally a defense to prosecution for the offense of improper relationship between educator and student that, with regards to the online solicitation of the student:

  • the meeting did not occur;
  • the employee did not intend for the meeting to occur; or
  • the employee was engaged in a fantasy at the time of the commission of the offense.  

Under Texas Penal Code Section 21.12(a)(3), the crime of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student is also charged as a second-degree felony. The elements of the crime include: 

  • the defendant is an employee of a public or private primary or secondary school;
  • the defendant is 17 years of age or older;
  • the defendant knowingly solicits a minor to meet another person, including the actor;
  • by either:
    • intentionally communicates in a sexually explicit manner with a minor;
    • distributes sexually explicit material to a minor;
  • the act is committed:
    • over the Internet;
    • by electronic mail;
    • by text message;
    • by other electronic message service or system;
    • through a commercial online service,
  • with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person the employee;
  • with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual contact; sexual intercourse; deviate sexual intercourse with the actor or another person.
  • the defendant 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 at which the employee works;
  • with 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 educational services to those participants regardless of the age of that person.

Definitions for the Improper Student / Teacher Relationship Statute 

For purpose of the Texas statute prohibiting an improper relationship between a student and a teacher, the term “minor” means:

  • an individual who represents himself or herself to be younger than 17 years of age; or
  • an individual whom the actor believes to be younger than 17 years of age.

“Sexually explicit” means any communication, language, or material, including a photographic or video image, that relates to or describes sexual conduct that includes sexual contact, actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, sado-masochistic abuse, or lewd exhibition of the genitals, the anus, or any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola.

The definition of "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. The definition of “sexual intercourse” means any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.

The definition of "deviate sexual intercourse” means any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.


Affirmative Defense for Spouses 

Under Penal Code, Sec. 21.12(b-1), it is an affirmative defense to prosecution for this offense that the defendant was the spouse of the child at the time of the offense. The burden of proof regarding this affirmative defense rests upon the defendant, and to establish such defense, the defendant must prove it by a preponderance of the evidence. The term “preponderance of the evidence” means the greater weight and degree of credible evidence admitted in this case.


Additional Resources

Improper Student Relationships - Visit the website of the United Educators Association, Inc., to learn more about what is meant by an “improper relationship” with a student. The UEA protect its members from false charges by providing up to $15,000 in legal protection for criminally-related charges. The UEA recommends getting help from an attorney before answering questions or placing anything in writing. The UEA also recommends that if the allegation is of a criminal nature, or if police are involved, then demand that your attorney to be present during the questioning and don't make any statements without your attorney being present.


Finding a Lawyer for Improper Student / Teacher Relationships

If you were charged with having an improper relationship with a student, then immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you against this type of sex crime in San Antonio, TX. Don Flanary is familiar with how these cases are prosecuted in San Antonio and Bexar County and the surrounding counties.

Call (210) 738-8383 today for a free and confidential consultation.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, December 27, 2016.

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