Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is defined as any type of sexual contact with a person under 14 years of age. Sexual contact includes any type of touching or physical contact with the breast or genitals that is intended to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person. This criminal offense is also known as indecency with a child, molestation or sexual assault of a minor.
Having sex with a child is an extremely serious criminal offense. A conviction for this charge can have drastic, lifelong consequences.
Houston Penalties for Child Sexual Abuse
This crime is a felony of the second degree. Under the law, children are afforded special protections and any action that endangers child safety is considered especially serious. A conviction for molestation of a child can lead to prison, fines and sex offender registration. According to the Texas Penal Code, some of the penalties can include:
- A minimum of two years and a maximum of 20 years confinement in state prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Lifelong registration on the national sex offender registry
- Loss of rights and loss of ability to work in certain career fields
Additional Texas penalties can be applied if the abuse resulted in child bodily injury, if the child was under six years of age or if the abuse happened continuously.
Legal Defenses for Having Sex with Children
Cases involving child abuse present difficult challenges for defense attorneys in Houston. Because children are especially vulnerable, it may be difficult to convince a jury of a defendant’s innocence.
In such cases, a lack of physical evidence may present an opportunity for a defense. A defense attorney may argue that accusations are not enough for a conviction if no physical evidence is present.
If the defense attorney can demonstrate that the child was encouraged to make the accusations by another person, such as an ex-spouse, the prosecution’s case will suffer. An attorney who can find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case may be able to have the charges reduced to a less serious offense. This may keep the defendant’s name off of the national sex offender registry.