Child Abuse Allegations
Parents, caretakers, family members or guardians of children are often shocked or surprised they are accused of child neglect or abuse in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex. Due to reporting requirements in Texas, law enforcement officers will typically investigate any reports of discipline or physical abuse, including hitting, spanking, kicking, beating, slapping, broken bones or any bruises or marks on the child.
Although marks and bruises alone are not sufficient evidence for a child abuse conviction, allegations of child abuse or child neglect can result in serious repercussions if the alleged offender is convicted, including jail time, fines, reputation damage or humiliation, loss of parental rights and/or a criminal record.
A criminal conviction does not have to result from charges or accusations of child abuse or neglect. The state prosecutor is required to prove you committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high burden of proof and can often be difficult to meet. If the judge or jury has any doubt you committed every element of the offense, the charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed. Therefore, it is imperative to contact an experienced family crimes defense lawyer in North Texas who will help you identify the best legal strategy for your particular situation.
Dallas Child Abuse Attorney
Contact Stuckle & Associates PLLC for a consultation about your allegations of child abuse throughout the Metroplex, including the areas of Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Irving, and Arlington. The attorneys of Stuckle & Associates PLLC are aggressive Texas family violence defense lawyers who are highly qualified and who will make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Call (972) 423-4405 if you have been charged with a child abuse or child neglect offense throughout Dallas and Fort Worth.
An Overview of Texas' Laws on Child Abuse and Neglect
- What is Considered Child Abuse or Neglect?
- Factors in Dallas Child Abuse Cases
- Penalties for Child Abuse Crimes
- Required Child Abuse Reporting in Texas
Texas law defines abuse under section 261.001(1) of the Texas Family Code as any of the following acts or omissions:
- Mental or emotional injury to a child;
- Allowing a child to be in a situation where the child receives mental or emotional injury;
- Physical injury or threat of substantial harm to the child;
- Failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent the acts of another person resulting in physical injury;
- Sexual conduct harmful to a child’s emotional, mental or physical welfare;
- Failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent harmful sexual conduct to a child;
- Compelling or encouraging a child to engage in sexual conduct or pornography;
- Using a controlled substance in a way that results in mental, emotional or physical injury to a child;
- Allowing a child to use a controlled substance; and/or
- Allowing a child to engage in a sexual performance.
Neglect is defined under section 261.001(4) of the Texas Family Code as:
- Leaving a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm;
- Placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm or harmful sexual conduct;
- The failure to seek medical care for a child that results in a substantial risk of death, disfigurement or bodily injury; and/or
- The failure to provide a child with food, clothing or shelter necessary to sustain the child’s life.
According to Tex. Penal Code § 22.04, an individual can be charged with child abuse, injury to a child or child neglect if they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence cause a child:
- Serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury,
- Serious bodily injury, or
- Bodily injury.
An individual can also be charged with child abuse if they fail to act on behalf of or care for a child the alleged offender had a legal or statutory duty to act on behalf of or if they have assumed care for the child, such as parent or a child day care employee.
Texas law defines as a child as anyone under the age of 14, according to Tex. Penal Code § 22.04(c)(1).
Texas Penal Code § 1.07(a)(8) defines bodily injury as any physical pain, illness or impairment of any physical condition. Serious bodily injury is defined in section 1.07(a)(46) as any bodily injury that causes permanent impairment or loss of any body part or organ, substantial risk of death, or serious permanent disfigurement.
The possible penalties and punishments for child abuse offenses are defined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code. The degree of conviction and punishment can vary depending on the alleged offender’s mental state and the degree of injury caused to the child as a result of the abuse or neglect.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved criminal negligence by the alleged offender can be convicted of a state jail felony. A state jail felony is punishable by 180 days to two years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved reckless actions by the alleged offender that resulted in bodily injury can be convicted of state jail felony. A state jail felony is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and/or a jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved intentional or knowing actions by the alleged offender that resulted in bodily injury can be convicted of a felony of the third degree. A felony of the third degree is punishable by two to ten years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved reckless actions by the alleged offender that resulted in serious bodily injury or serious mental injury can be convicted of a felony of the second degree. A felony of the second degree is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved intentional or knowing actions by the alleged offender that resulted in serious mental injury or serious bodily injury can be convicted of a felony of the first degree. A felony of the first degree is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years and/or a fine not more than $10,000.
According to section 261.101 of the Texas Family Code, anyone who has reason to believe a child’s mental or physical health has been abused or neglected is required to make a report with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Additionally, anyone who is considered a child care professional is required to make the report within a specified period of time. A professional in Texas is anyone who is licensed or certified by the state or is an employee of a facility licensed or certified by the state and has direct contact with children in the normal course of their job. Child care professionals can include:
- Reproductive service clinic or facility employees,
- Juvenile probation officers,
- Juvenile detention or correctional officers, and/or
- Day care employees.
If anyone fails to make a report of child abuse or neglect as provided by Texas law, they can be charged with a misdemeanor or state jail felony offense.
Finding the Best Child Abuse Attorney in Dallas-Fort Worth
If you have been accused of committing child abuse or neglect throughout Texas, including the areas of Collin County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, and Denton County, contact Stuckle & Associates PLLC today. Paul Stuckle is a knowledgeable family crimes attorney who will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation. Contact Stuckle & Associates PLLC today for a free consultation at (972) 423-4405 or send an online message about your child abuse allegations in Texas.