Prosecutors in Texas fight hard to get convictions in child molestation cases. In Texas, child molestation charges are among the worst types of criminal charges a person can face. The mere accusation of child molestation can immediately turn a person’s life upside down, even if the accusation is false. The accused can lose their job, family, and personal reputation in the blink of an eye. If convicted, the defendant could face jail time, penalties, and registration as a sex offender.
Unfortunately, far too many child molestation cases are based on the testimony of minor children who may not understand the ramifications of bringing such charges against an adult. If you are facing child sexual assault charges in Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
Child Molestation Laws in Texas
In Texas, the crime of child molestation is called sexual assault of a child. Texas defines child molestation as “indecency, sexual contact, or sexual abuse…of anyone under the age of 17.” Sexual assault of a child includes when an individual or a group of people attempts to gain sexual gratification from a child or exposes their own genitals or those of a child. Continuous sexual abuse of a child is a more severe crime in Texas.
What Defines “Sexual Abuse” Against a Child?
- Sexual abuse against a child includes all of the following situations:
- Not taking enough reasonable action to stop sexual conduct from happening to a child
- Engaging in sexual conduct that harms a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare
- Either compelling or urging a child to engage in sexual conduct
- Allowing the sexual performance of a child
- Causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the filming or depicting of a child engaging in obscene or pornographic behavior
The Statute of Limitations for Child Molestation Charges in Texas
There is no statute of limitations on child molestation charges in Texas. In other words, the alleged victim of child molestation can report to the police. The prosecutors can choose to bring charges against the defendant at any point in the defendant’s life. Even if the alleged defendant is 85 years old and the incident allegedly happened when they were 25, prosecutors can still theoretically bring criminal charges.
The Penalties for Child Molestation in Texas
Child molestation is a serious crime in Texas, and it is no surprise that Texas issues harsh penalties for child molestation convictions. In Texas, second-degree indecency with a child will result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years plus a mandatory registration in the Texas sex offender registry. When additional aggravating factors or multiple instances of child molestation, the defendant will face much more serious penalties that could include life in prison.
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Charges
When there are certain aggravating circumstances present, prosecutors can bring charges for aggravated sexual assault. The prosecution must show that the child was under the age of 14 when the alleged incident happened to convict a defendant of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The prosecution will also need to show that the defendant either used a deadly weapon or had the potential to cause serious bodily harm. When the defendant knowingly or intentionally engaged in the following, prosecutors can bump the crime of child sexual assault up to aggravated child sexual assault:
- Cause the mouth of a child to contact your sexual organs or anus, or those of another person
- Cause a child’s anus to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person or yourself
- Make the sexual organ of another person contact the child
- Cause the penetration of a child’s anus or sexual organ in any way
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child
Continuous sexual abuse of a child is illegal under Texas law. This crime is a felony of the first degree, and a defendant can be charged with it for committing at least two acts of sexual abuse against the child within a 30-day time frame. the prosecution needs to demonstrate the following facts to convict the defendant of continuous abuse of a child:
- The defendant was 17 years old or older at the time of the offense
- The victim was a child less than 14 years of age
The penalties for continuous sexual assault of a child are serious. If convicted, the defendant can be punished by imprisonment for life. If the defendant is not given a life sentence, they will face imprisonment for no less than 25 years and no more than 99 years.
Defenses to Child Molestation Charges in Texas
If you are facing child molestation charges in Texas, you may be understandably concerned about your future. You can rest assured that when you work with the criminal defense attorneys at Wilder Law Firm, we will develop an effective legal defense strategy. The first thing we will do is determine whether the allegations are credible. Sometimes children will fabricate child molestation charges due to pressure from a parent in a hostile divorce case to receive attention or because they are confused about the situation.
Whatever the reason for a false allegation of child molestation against you, one of our criminal defense attorneys will work hard to get to the bottom of the matter. In many cases, there is a lack of evidence for prosecutors to prove that child molestation has occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. We will gather evidence and testimony to show that the prosecution cannot convict based on a lack of evidence.
Defenses to Child Molestation Charges in Texas
If you are facing child molestation charges, it is vital that you are proactive by contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If convicted, you may face jail time, penalties, registration on Texas’ sex offender registry. You could also face personal and professional consequences. Contact the skilled Plano criminal defense attorneys at Wilder Law Firm today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more about how we can advocate for you.
ABOUT DOUG WILDER | WILDER LAW FIRM
Founding partner Doug Wilder began his legal career as a prosecutor, which he did from 1995-2000. After prosecuting thousands of DWI’s and teaching police officers how to be more effective, he took all of his skill and knowledge and applied it to defending people, many of whom are wrongly accused. Doug Wilder is also a Field Sobriety Test Instructor and has taught the Student Field Sobriety Test Course around the country, and continues to be involved in teaching police officers as well.
* Please note: All articles on this blog are for informative purposes only, and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are being accused of a crime, please contact our law firm directly for professional representation.