Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Few allegations can damage your reputation and future as much as a charge involving child sexual abuse. These charges often involve family members or adults in positions of trust with children, including teachers, coaches, youth leaders, and religious leaders, which makes law enforcement and the public react especially violently to child sexual abuse crimes.
There’s no question that the sexual mistreatment of children is a serious issue: by some estimates, one in nine girls and one in 53 boys under 18 experience sexual assault or abuse at the hands of an adult. This grim reality makes it easy to forget that not every accusation of child sexual abuse has merit.
In some cases, reports of child abuse may be accompanied by misunderstandings, errors of fact, and even outright lies. Children may be genuinely confused or mistaken, parents can make malicious claims during a bitter custody battle, and some people report even the faintest suspicion so that they are not prosecuted under the strict mandatory reporting statute in this state.
Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC has years of experience handling emotionally sensitive criminal matters, including sex crimes against children. Our firm has navigated this sensitive terrain with integrity and determination, advocating effectively on behalf of clients. We listen to you without judgment and use both legal and investigative strategies to present evidence in your favor.
What Is Considered Child Sexual Abuse in Texas?
Under Texas law, child sexual abuse (also known as sexual assault of a minor or child molestation) addresses any sexual conduct harmful to the mental, physical, or emotional welfare of a child, which is anyone under 17 years of age. The definition, which is outlined in Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code, also includes:
- Failing to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct with a child
- Compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct
Below are some common child sexual abuse offenses in Texas.
Sexual Assault of a Minor
If there is evidence you performed a sex act on a child that included penetration, you could be found guilty of sexual assault of a minor. It is typically a second-degree felony, which is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Sexual assault of a child younger than 14 is punishable by 5 to 99 years or life in prison.
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child
It may be possible to charge you with continuous sexual abuse of a child if there is evidence that you committed two or more sex crimes involving a child younger than 14 over a period of at least 30 days.
Indecency with a child, sex assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual performances with children, aggravating kidnapping, and burglary with the intent to commit a sex crime are all examples. A conviction will result in a sentence of 25 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Indecency with a Child
In Texas, the crime of indecency with a child is divided into two categories:
- Indecency with a Child by Contact, which involves sexual touching. It is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
- Indecency with a Child by Exposure is the exposure of private areas without touching. As a third-degree felony, it is punishable up by to 10 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and registration as a sex offender for 10 years after completion of your sentence or community supervision.
While Texas law doesn’t strictly prohibit sexting, it is illegal for adults to distribute or display harmful or prurient materials to a minor under the age of 18. In other words, sexting is a crime when an adult shares sexual material with a minor in this way. Adults are also prohibited from sending a sexual image of a minor to another adult, and the other adult from receiving it. This could be considered possessing or distributing child pornography, which are serious offenses under both state and federal law.
Defenses to Child Sexual Abuse Charges
On the surface, defending against an allegation of child sexual abuse may seem like an uphill battle. Even if the accusations are false, the general outcry, in the beginning, is biased towards the victim, and regardless of what the law says, you may be regarded as guilty until proven innocent.
While defense strategies will differ from one case to the next, you may be able to claim one or more of the following defenses:
- Misidentification- someone else may have used your Internet connection or a device you have access to in order to exploit children sexually.
- Credibility issues with the complaining witness. It is not unknown for an angry minor to want to ‘get even’ with an adult by fabricating sexual abuse claims. Similarly, a disgruntled parent may make a false claim to remove the other parent from the house.
- Misunderstanding- a complaining witness may have misunderstood your actions or misinterpreted them as sexual.
- You were married to the minor in question.
- The Romeo and Juliet defense- more on that below.
When Should I Hire a Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
Child sexual abuse charges carry severe penalties upon conviction, which makes it imperative that you start your defense as soon as possible. The moment that you’re arrested or made aware that you’re under investigation, call an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC before you make any statement to the police or prosecutors.
As a leading Texas criminal defense law firm, we have the resources necessary to investigate and successfully defend against child sexual abuse charges. During our investigation, we may uncover issues with the complainant’s credibility, which is often a determining factor in cases of this type. We can also employ a network of experts to review key forensic evidence, such as DNA, and gather the facts necessary to build a strong defense. Our experience and success rate in these challenging cases mean that your case is in good hands.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Child Sexual Abuse in Texas?
Texas has no statute of limitations for pursuing charges against an individual for molestation, sexual assault, or indecency with a child. As a consequence, you may be convicted at any time and the penalties are severe for your freedom and reputation.
No matter how worried you are, never forget that you have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. In order to convict you, the prosecution must prove you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. A San Antonio criminal defense lawyer at Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC can help you clear your name, avoid federal sanctions, and protect your reputation.
What is the Romeo and Juliet Defense?
Texas is one of approximately 24 states with a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ law in place. This law makes it an affirmative defense against child sexual abuse charges if :
- You were no more than three years older than the alleged victim and had no prior child sexual offenses on your records and/or reporting requirements as a sex offender AND;
- The alleged victim was at least 14 years old and someone you were not prohibited from marrying.
A person between the ages of 14 and 17 can legally consent to have sex with someone within three years of their age. In Texas, this means that an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old can have consensual sex without it being considered a child sex offense. Your attorney at Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC can apply this defense if it is relevant to your case.
Contact a San Antonio Child Sexual Abuse Today
Child sexual abuse charges can be devastating to you, your family, and your future. Even if the charges are untrue, the allegations can create a number of issues that may never be resolved. At Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC, we work hard to protect our clients’ rights and help them put these damaging claims behind them. Call (866) 358-2235 today for a free initial consultation or contact us online.