If you have been charged with child abuse in Houston, call Madrid Law, PLLC immediately at 713-877-9400 for a free initial consultation
Being charged with child abuse is inevitably a traumatic experience. Not only are you facing the possibility of criminal penalties, you may find yourself facing ostracism from people who assume that you are guilty simply because you were accused. False allegations of child abuse not at all uncommon, however (by someone seeking advantage in a custody battle, for example), and in many cases appropriate acts of discipline are mischaracterized as child abuse by overzealous prosecutors. If you have been charged with child abuse in Houston, the services of a seasoned Houston criminal lawyer could turn out to be a necessity.
Types of Child Abuse under Texas Law
Texas law includes a number of different acts or omissions that can be classified as child abuse, including:
- Continuous sexual abuse of a young child: This offense requires a defendant to sexually abuse a child at least twice over a 90-day period.
- Indecency with a child: This offense requires the defendant to commit a sexual act in front of (not with) a minor.
- Bodily injury to a child: This offense requires the defendant to cause serious bodily injury or mental deficiency to child. The act need not be intentional – even a negligent act will support a conviction.
- Child neglect: The caretaker of a child (not necessarily a parent or guardian) can sometimes be charged with child neglect if he withholds food, water, shelter, clothing, medical treatment, supervision and even love and affection from a child. A caretaker can even face charges for failing to provide adequate discipline – by allowing a child to frequently miss school, for example.
- Child abandonment/child endangerment: This offense requires the defendant to put a child under 15 into a dangerous situation, or to allow such a child to enter into or remain in a dangerous situation though culpable inaction.
Allegations of child abuse are taken very seriously in Texas, and a wide variety of penalties may apply depending on the circumstances of the case. Some of the most common penalties include:
- Loss of custody or even permanent termination of parental rights
- Misdemeanor criminal penalties (jail time and/or fines)
- Felony criminal penalties (in some cases even life imprisonment)
- Lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender
Defenses to child abuse allegations are almost completely dependent on the facts of each individual case. Some of the most commonly used defenses are:
- The defendant was not mentally competent to care for a child
- The allegation was a malicious false accusation, or the child’s allegation was coached by an adult
- The child’s injuries were not caused by the defendant
- The accuser was overzealous and jumped to conclusions because of Texas’ mandatory reporting law.
Failure to Report Child Abuse
In Texas, anyone who has reason to believe that a child is being abused is legally required to report their suspicion to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Failure to do so can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor criminal offense.
Houston criminal defense lawyer Mario Madrid enjoys the benefit of two decades of experience as a criminal defense attorney, a prosecutor and a judge. He is also a Board Certified specialist in Criminal Law, an honor granted to fewer that ten percent of Texas criminal lawyers. If you have been charged with child abuse in Houston, call Madrid Law, PLLC immediately at 713-877-9400 for a free initial consultation.