Jessica's Laws are named after a nine-year-old Florida girl who in 2005 was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender.
Under the laws, Texas became the sixth U.S. state to authorize capital punishment for certain sex crimes against children. That particular measure was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2008 that it was unconstitutional to impose the dealth penalty for the crime of raping a child.
Other tenets of Jessica's Laws:
- A first conviction for raping a child under 6 comes with a mandatory 25-year minimum sentence, as do cases against youths between 7 and 14 that involve a weapon, bodily harm or kidnapping.
- A charge called "Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child" punishes habitual child-sex offenders, including those charged with below-the-waist indecency with a child, with a 25-year minimum sentence.