Age of Consent

Accusations of Child Sex Abuse

Accusations of Child Sex Abuse

There is nothing more grave and serious than an accusation of child sexual abuse. The prosecution of these cases are aggressive and short of capital murder, the consequences are more severe than any other type of criminal case. Cases of child sexual abuse are regularly prosecuted on the word of the child alone. There is no requirement in the law that an allegation of child abuse be corroborated by medical evidence or scientific evidence, such as DNA. The levels of child sexual abuse cases range from third degree felony up to first degree felony meaning that a person charged with child sex abuse will be faced with possible time in the penitentiary. The most serious of charges carry a MINIMUM sentence of 25 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). If is a repeat sex offense (depending on the specific charges), you can face an automatic life sentence. Further, all offenses involving child sex abuse (with rare exceptions) require sex offender registration for life. If you find you are facing allegations of sexually abusing a child, or even suspect that you will be accused, it is of vital importance to have representation immediately.

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, Section 21.02, Texas Penal Code:

This offense is charged in cases where the allegations are that there are at least two acts of sexual abuse against a child, AND that the two acts occurred over a period that is greater than 30 days. Under this statute, there is no requirement that the two acts of sexual abuse be against one child. The case can be charged if the two acts are alleged to be committed against one child or more than one child. In order to be charged with this type of offense, the accused must be at least 17 years of age at the time of the alleged abuse and the child must be younger than 14 years of age at the time of the alleged abuse. Acts that qualify as sexual abuse are defined in the penal code and include acts such as fondling (over or under clothing) and sexual assault. This offense is a first degree felony and carries a range of punishment of 25 years to LIFE in the TDCJ and up to a $10,000 fine. A reportable conviction for this offense requires sex offender registration for life. Learn more: Continuous Sexual Assault of a Child under 14.

Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, Section 22.021, Texas Penal Code:

This offense is charged where the allegations are that the accused intentionally or knowingly committed an act of sexual assault against a child younger than 14 years of age. The specific acts that qualify as “sexual assault” are contained within the statute and include serious acts such as sexual intercourse, penetration by any means, and genital to genital contact. Allegations of one act alone are sufficient to support a charge. Any additional alleged acts of sexual assault can be prosecuted as an additional case. (If the acts are alleged to have occurred over a period greater than 30 days, the higher charge of Continuous Sex Abuse will be sought). More than one case can result in “stacked” sentences, meaning that separate sentences could be added up and not served at the same time. Aggravated Sexual Assault is a first degree felony and carries a range of punishment of a minimum 5 years to LIFE in the TDCJ and up to a $10,000 fine. However, the minimum increases to 25 years if the allegations are that the child was less than six years of age at the time of the alleged offense. The minimum also increases to 25 years if the allegations are that the child was less than 14 years of age and serious bodily injury was caused, or there was an attempt to cause death to any person in the course of the alleged episode. Learn more: Aggravated Sexual Assault.

Sexual Assault of a Child, Section 22.011, Texas Penal Code:

This offense is charged when the allegations are that the accused intentionally or knowingly committed an act of sexual assault against a child younger than 17 years of age. The specific acts that qualify as “sexual assault” are listed in the statute and are the same as the acts listed for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child above. As with Aggravated, separate acts can be prosecuted as additional charges and can result in “stacked” sentences. Sexual Assault is a 2nd degree felony and carries a range of punishment of a minimum 2 years to 20 years in the TDCJ and up to a $10,000 fine. A reportable conviction for this offense requires sex offender registration for life. Learn more: Sexual Assault of a Child.

Indecency with a Child by Contact, Section 21.11, Texas Penal Code:

This offense is charged when the allegations are that the accused, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, engaged in sexual contact with a child younger than 17 years of age. The act of “sexual contact” is defined in the statute and includes touching of any part of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals. Allegations of more than one act of sexual contact can result in separate cases which also can be “stacked.” Indecency with a Child by Contact is a second degree felony and carries a range of punishment of a minimum 2 years to 20 years in the TDCJ and up to a $10,000 fine. A reportable conviction for this offense requires sex offender registration for life.

Indecency with a Child by Exposure, Section 21.11, Texas Penal Code:

This offense is charged when the allegations are that the accused, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, exposes his/her genitals or anus to a child younger than 17 years of age, knowing the child is present; OR causes a child younger than 17 years of age to expose the child’s genitals or anus. Allegations of more than one act of exposure can result in separate cases which also can be “stacked.” Indecency with a Child by Exposure is a third degree felony and carries a range of punishment of a minimum 2 years to 10 years in the TDCJ and up to a $10,000 fine. A reportable conviction for this offense requires sex offender registration for 10 years, unless there is a second reportable conviction, which would then require sex offender registration for life. Learn more: Indecency with a Child.

Prohibited Sexual Conduct, Section 25.02, Texas Penal Code:

This offense concerns allegations of sexual relations between relatives. It can involve an offense against a child when the allegation is made that the accused had sexual relations with either their own child (by blood or adoption) or a step-child. (Other offenses in the statute concern relations between parent/descendant, siblings, aunt or uncle/niece or nephew, cousins). If the allegations are that the accused had sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with their own child, the offense is a 2nd degree felony, which carries a range of punishment of 2 to 20 years TDCJ and up to a $10,000 fine. If the allegations are that the accused had sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a step-child, the offense is a 3rd degree felony, which carries a range of punishment of 2 to 10 years TDCJ and up to a $10,000 fine. A reportable conviction for this offense requires sex offender registration for life. Learn more: Prohibited Sexual Conduct (Incest).

Online Solicitation of a Minor, Penal Code Section 33.021:

Online Solicitation of a Minor is the solicitation to meet a minor through the internet or through a text message. Penal Code Section 33.021 provides: A person commits an offense if the person, over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service, knowingly solicits a minor to meet another person, including the actor, with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the actor or another person. Learn more: Online Solicitation of a Minor.

Sexual Performance by a Child, Penal Code 43.25:

Sexual Performance by a Child is an offense that focuses on the “performance” which can be any picture, photograph, or visual representation of a child under 18. (Notice this is different that the general age of consent in Texas.) This is a second degree offense with a punishment range of 2 to 20 years in prison. Where the child is under the age of 14, it is a first degree felony punishable by between 5 and 99 years, or life in prison. Penal Code 43.25. Learn more: Sexual Performance by a Child.

Possession of Child Pornography, Penal Code 43.26:

Possession of Child Pornography is the possession of visual material that depicts a child younger than 18 years of age engaging in sexual conduct. Possession of Child Pornography is a third degree felony with a punishment range of 2 to 10 years in prison. Possession of Child Pornography with the Intent to Distribute or Promote a second degree offense with a punishment range of 2 to 20 years in prison. Penal Code 43.26. Learn more: Child Pornography.

Why you need the  criminal defense attorneys at Varghese Summersett PLLC if you are charged with sex offense:

  • Former Prosecutors: Our criminal attorneys are former Tarrant County prosecutors. Specifically, our attorneys have prosecuted cases in the Crimes Against Children Unit, and one of our attorneys served as the Chief of the Unit for a number of years.
  • Experienced Trial Attorneys: Our criminal law attorneys have tried over 550 jury trials in Texas. We have over 50 years of criminal law experience and have handled thousands of criminal cases.
  • Exceptional Resources: From our own investigators to partnerships with forensic analysts, our firm has a wide range of resources that are available to as we work on your case, from the moment an allegation is made all the way through trial.
  • Personalized Attention: We do more than give you access to our attorneys 24/7 by phone and through our secure Client Portal. We get to know you personally and represent each client with a level of attention that comes from an understanding that the criminal charges filed against are the biggest problem you are facing in your life.
  • A track record of results: Check out our recent results and client reviews for more reasons as to why Varghese Summersett PLLC has become a go-to firm for the most serious of criminal charges.

 

Video: Should I take a polygraph?

Video: What is the age of consent in Texas?

About the Author

Letty Martinez

Leticia “Letty” Martinez has extensive experience handling state and federal criminal cases, specifically allegations of sexual abuse of adults and children, intoxication-related offenses and violent offenses.