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Continuous Sexual Abuse of Child

This offense is defined in Texas as committing two or more acts of sexual abuse during a period of 30 days to one or more child victims.

A conviction for continuous child sex abuse in Texas can result in any of the following penalties:

  • A criminal record,
  • An inability to apply for certain jobs or pursue certain professions or occupations,
  • Damage to reputation and public embarrassment,
  • Ineligibility to be accepted in to certain educational programs,
  • Ineligibility to own or possess a firearm,
  • Ineligibility to receive certain forms of governmental funding or assistance, and/or
  • Potential requirements to register as a sex offender.

However, allegations of continuous child sex abuse do not necessarily have to result in a conviction. The state prosecutor has the burden of proof to show that the alleged offender committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge or jury has any doubt you committed any element of the offense, the charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed.

Attorney for Continuous Child Sexual Abuse in Dallas

Contact Stuckle & Associates PLLC for a consultation about your arrest in North Texas, including the areas of Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Carrollton, Richardson, Garland, Irving, and Denton. The attorneys of Stuckle & Associates PLLC are experienced in defending allegations of this delicate nature and will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation. Call (972) 423-4405 to learn more about your options during a free consultation.


Under Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 21.02(g), the statute includes affirmative defenses that put the burden of persuasion on the defense. If the defense commits an offense against only one victim, the defendant may be exonerated if the defendant is no more than five years older than the victim or no more than five years older than the youngest victim if there is more than one. The affirmative defense also requires that the defendant did not use any force, duress, or threat against a victim during the commission of the acts of sexual abuse and, at the time of the offense, the defendant was not required to report as a sex offender under Chapter 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or had a reportable conviction under that Chapter.


Texas Continuous Child Sexual Abuse Information Center


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Continuous Child Sex Abuse as Defined by Texas Law

An individual can be charged with continuous child sex abuse under section 21.02 of the Texas Penal Code if they:

  • Commit two or more acts of sexual abuse during a period that is 30 days or more in duration, regardless if the acts are committed against one or more victims; and
  • The alleged offender is at least 17 years old and the victim is a child under 14 years old.

This offense is punishable as a felony of the first degree.

A child is defined under section 22.011(c) of the Texas Penal Code as anyone younger than 17 years old.


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What is Considered an Act of Sexual Abuse in Texas?

Under Tex. Penal Code § 21.02(c), an act of sexual abuse is defined to include any fo the following acts:


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Proven State of Mind or Mental State

In order to convict an alleged continuous child sex abuse offender, the state prosecutor generally must prove the alleged offender had a certain state of mind or mental state when committing the offense, depending on the act of sexual abuse. The most common mental states in Texas are when an alleged offender acts intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, and with criminal negligence.

A mental state is unique to each person, so it is the typically the most difficult element for the prosecutor to prove. According to Tex. Penal Code § 6.03, the mental states for continuous child sexual abuse mental states are defined as:

  • Intentionally – An alleged offender can act intentionally if they commit some type of conduct and it is in their desire or conscious objective to engage in the form of the conduct or to cause the result of the conduct.
  • Knowingly – An alleged offender can act knowingly if they commit some type of conduct and they are aware their actions are reasonably certain to cause a result of the actions.
  • Recklessly – An alleged offender can act recklessly if they commit some form of conduct and they are aware the conduct will cause a certain result, but they consciously disregard the possibility that the result will occur.
  • Criminal Negligence – An alleged offender can act with criminal negligence if they act in a certain way when they should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a certain result can occur from the conduct.

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Defenses and Burden of Proof

In certain cases, an individual that has been accused of committing an act of continuous child sexual abuse may be able to use certain defenses to the charges against them. It is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer first as not all of the following defenses are applicable in every situation:

  • Alibi
  • Coercion
  • Duress
  • Insanity
  • Mistaken Identity

Additionally, it is an affirmative defense to prosecution for continuous child sex abuse that:

  • The alleged offender did not use duress, force or a threat against the victim at the time of the alleged offense, if any of those elements are required for the type of sexual abuse.
  • The alleged offender was not more than five years older than:
  • The individual the alleged offense was committed against, if the offense is alleged to have occurred to only one person; or
  • The youngest victim of the alleged offense, if the offense is alleged to have occurred to more than one person.

An affirmative defense is a type of defense to a crime where the alleged offender admits they committed the act that would ordinarily be classified as a crime, but it is not a crime in their situation for a certain reason. If the defense intends to use an affirmative defense to criminal charges, the burden of proof is placed on the defense as opposed to the prosecution.

Ordinarily, the prosecutor is required to prove every element to the offense and the defendant does not have to present any defense evidence if they choose not to. However, if the defense claims an affirmative defense, they have to prove the defense existed by a preponderance of the evidence, which means the defense is more likely true than not.


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Potential Penalties Upon Conviction

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code defines the penalties for continuous child sex abuse offenses, which are as follows:

  • An individual that has been charged with a continuous child sex abuse offense that is punishable as a felony of the first degree can face a prison sentence from five to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.

A person convicted of the offense is not eigible for parole.

These penalties may increase if the alleged offender has a previous criminal history. Additionally, an individual that has been charged with continuous child sex abuse can face a requirement to register as a sex offender for life.


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Finding an Experienced Defense Attorney in North Texas

If you have been accused of committing continuous child sex abuse throughout Texas, including the areas of Collin County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, or Denton County contact Stuckle & Associates PLLC today. Paul Stuckle is an aggressive Dallas child sex crimes attorney who will make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Call (972) 423-4405 or send an online message to schedule your free consultation today.

This article was last updated on Friday, February 19, 2016.