Child Sex Abuse Lawyer in Texas
Serving Plano and Surrounding Areas, Including Dallas, McKinney, Frisco, and Allen
Were you falsely accused of abusing a minor in Texas areas? If so, you need an aggressive criminal defense team on your side. An experienced child sex abuse lawyer at Stuckle & Associates PLLC can protect your rights. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
What is Considered an Act of Sexual Abuse?
Under Tex. Penal Code § 21.02(c), an act of sexual abuse is defined to include any of the following acts:
- Indecency with a Child, (Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 21.11(a)); (having sexual contact with a child));
- Sexual Performance by a Child (Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 43.25);
- Aggravated Sexual Assault, (Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.021) ;
- Compelling Prostitution (Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 43.05(a)(2)) (causing by any means a child less than 17 to commit prostitution).
- Trafficking of persons (V.T.C.A., Penal Code Sec. 20A.02(a)(7) or (8)) (causing a child to engage in a number of illegal sexual acts);
- Aggravated Kidnapping, (V.T.C.A., Penal Code, Sec. 20.04(a)(4)) (acting with the intent to inflict bodily harm or violate or abuse the victim sexually); and
- Burglary (V.T.C.A., Penal Code, Sec. 30.02)(but only if the burglary is punishable as a first-degree felony and is committed with the intents listed in subsections 1-4).
Continuous Child Sex Abuse
Prolonged sexual abuse of a minor is punishable as a felony of the first degree. 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.
What Can Happen If You Are Convicted of Continuously Abusing a Child in Texas?
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.
Potential Penalties Upon Conviction
As per Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code, continuous child sex abuse may be punishable as a felony of the first degree, which can carry 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 eligible 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.
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.
However, allegations of continuous child sex abuse do not necessarily have to result in a conviction. Proof beyond a reasonable double against the alleged offender must be demonstrated. 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. For these reasons, it is imperative to seek legal help with an attorney who has experience defending allegations of this delicate nature.
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.
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:
- 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.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer Now for Aggressive Legal Defense
If you have been accused of committing continuous child sex abuse in Texas, including the areas of Plano, Dallas, McKinney, Frisco, and Allen, contact Stuckle & Associates PLLC today. Paul Stuckle is an aggressive defense lawyer 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.