Molestation of a child involves any type of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or indecent behavior with a person under 17 years of age. This can include sexual assault, inappropriate touching or exposing a child to obscene materials.
Physical contact does not have to occur for child sexual abuse charges to be filed. Causing a child to expose their body, exposing genitals to a child or showing pornographic material to a child can all result in child sexual abuse charges.
Abused children can experience years of suffering. For this reason, allegations of sexual misconduct with a child are taken very seriously.
Penalties for Child Molestation
The legal consequences for this offense can be extensive. In addition to the penalties handed down by a court, the public consequences for child abuse allegations may be severe. Convicted offenders are often ostracized by the community, denied career opportunities and may lose eligibility for certain government programs.
According to the Texas Penal Code, some of the penalties can include:
- Two to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine for conviction of indecency with a child
- Five to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for conviction of continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Automatic life imprisonment for a second conviction of sexual abuse of a child under 13
Legal Defenses for Having Sex with Children
Allegations of touching children can sometimes be the result of misinformation or false allegations. Day care workers, teachers, coaches and religious officials are especially vulnerable to these kinds of allegations.
For example, a day care worker or teacher may be accused of playing with children for attempting to perform a medical procedure for a sick or injured child. A coach may make a seemingly harmless physical gesture that is interpreted as abusive by a parent or child.
A defense attorney may be able to provide evidence that such contact was accidental or was not intended to arouse or gratify sexual desire. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any contact was explicitly sexual in nature. If a defense attorney can introduce doubt into the minds of the jury, the charges may be reduced or dropped.