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Child Abuse

Attorney Greg Tsioros

Child Abuse

Child Abuse Defense in Houston: Brazoria, Ft. Bend, Galveston, Harris & Montgomery Counties

Cases of child abuse are varied, and some parents or caregivers may not even be aware that some of their actions may be constituted as child abuse. There are some instances where child abuse is evident, such as in cases where sexual abuse is involved. There are other times when state or federal authorities deem a case as child abuse when the defendant had no intention of harming the child. In either case, the charges and sentences can be severe and can lead to major disruptions in the life of those accused.

Child Abandonment

Child abandonment is failing to provide reasonable and necessary care to a child. In Texas, the law defines criminal child abandonment as leaving a child younger than 15 years old in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care or in circumstances under which no reasonable, similarly situated adult would leave a child of that age or ability.

The penalty for child abandonment varies:

  • State jail felony – abandoning a child with the intent to return. It comes with six months to two years and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Third-degree felony – abandoning a child without intending to return. It comes with two to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Second-degree felony – exposing a child to impairment or injury. It comes with two to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000

Child Injury

Child injury is a charge for intentionally causing harm to a child, including bodily injury, serious bodily injury, serious impairment, or mental deficiency or injury. Child injury may result from acting in a reckless manner while supervising the welfare of a child. 

For child injury to result in a criminal charge, the prosecution must prove the child’s injury occurred as an act of intention or an act of omission.

The penalty for child injury could result in:

  • State jail felony – six months to two years in jail and fines up to $10,000
  • Third-degree felony – two to ten years in prison and fines up to $10,000
  • Second-degree felony – two to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000

Harsher punishment may be sought in the death of a child.

Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse includes any behavior that has the potential to harm the mental, physical, or emotional well-being of a child. Also, it includes failing to make a reasonable effort to prevent or report sexual behavior with a child. Encouraging or forcing a child to engage in sexual activities also comes under the definition of child sexual abuse.

Physical contact is not required. Lewd and lascivious behaviors are prosecuted as child abuse, too, including:

  • Indecent exposure
  • Flashing 
  • Vulgar sexual speech or comments
  • Attempting to distribute or possess pornographic materials depicting minors

The penalty for child sexual abuse is a felony.

  • Sexual indecency – third-degree felony with two to ten years in prison and fines up to $10,000
  • Child sexual assault – second-degree felony with two to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
  • Aggravated sexual assault of a child – first-degree felony with five to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000

Sexual Assault of a Child

Sexual assault of a child is a term including a variety of acts:

  • Molestation 
  • Inappropriate physical conduct, such as fondling
  • Child pornography
  • Indecent exposure
  • Lewd behavior in the presence of a child

Molestation includes:

  • Indecency with a child
  • Sexual abuse of a child
  • Sexual contact with anyone under 18 years of age
  • Engaging in sexual acts that harm a child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being
  • Not taking action to protect a child from sexual abuse
  • Compelling, urging, or enticing a child to have sexual contact

Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is defined as sexual involvement with a person under the legal age of consent. In Texas, the legal age of consent is at least 17 years old. It is not charged in cases where a spouse is 17 years or older.

Statutory rape can involve any of the following:

  • Penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child in any way
  • Penetration of the mouth of a child with their own sexual organ
  • Causing the sexual organ of a child to penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of themselves or another person

Statutory rape is charged in one of two ways:

  • Sexual assault is charged as a second-degree felony carrying two to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • Aggravated sexual assault is charged when the child is under the age of 14 years since they cannot consent to sex under any circumstances. It is charged as a first-degree felony carrying five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Statutory rape is different from other rape charges. It is used when the victim is not of the appropriate age to give consent for sexual activity. In general, this includes persons under the age of 17 except if they are married. Children 14 years old and under cannot give informed consent under any circumstances.

False Allegations of Sexual Abuse or Rape

Anyone can be untruthfully accused of any crime by another person. False allegations are made frequently about crimes of a sexual nature and child abuse. 

Often, someone maliciously accuses an individual of sexual misconduct or abuse in an attempt to attack the character or integrity of that person. Sometimes the allegations stem from a mistake or misconstrued information. Also, it may come as a result of mistaken identity.

There are several ways to fight false allegations and charges.

  • Investigate the evidence – ensure the evidence is valid and relevant to the case and demanding proof that it was collected legally without tampering
  • Investigate the witnesses and their statements – ensure the statements are truthful and were not made under duress or against their will
  • Inform the accused of their rights – ensure the client knows their rights and that they are not required to answer any questions or provide information without an attorney present

All Cases Are Not Created Equal

A charge of child abuse can be defended against by a skilled attorney. An attorney will often examine the aspects of the case to see where mistakes may have been made. If another person reported the alleged abuse, there may be a question as to whether or not that person was correct in their reporting. It is possible that the accuser might have had ulterior motives for making the claim. The prosecution also has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the parent or caretaker was negligent and that this caused the child to be injured.

Starting with a Strong Defense

The Law Office of Greg Tsioros works to aggressively defend clients in their pursuit of a fair case. Greg Tsioros has worked as a prosecutor and brings these skills to the table with every case he handles. He is able to build a solid defense that is based on having personal insight into prosecution procedures.