The criminal justice system is particularly harsh when it comes to sex offenders. If you have been accused of indecency with a child, there’s a lot on the line. Not only are you facing serious jail time, you will be required to register as a sex offender if convicted. The mere accusation alone can have devastating consequences on your career and rights as a parent.
The first, and most important, step you can take when you’ve been arrested or charged with indecency with a child is to contact an experienced Houston child sex abuse lawyer. A qualified defense attorney will investigate the evidence against you and prepare a strong defense strategy to fight your charge.
How is Indecency with a Child Defined in Texas?
In Texas, indecency with a child either involves sexual contact or exposure. The term child refers to anyone under the age of 17.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 21.11(a)(1) a person commits the offense of indecency with a child if he or she engaged in sexual contact with a child or caused a child to engage in sexual contact. Sexual contact means acts that are committed with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person including:
- Any touching by a person, including touching through clothing, of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a child, or
- Any touching of any part of the body of a child, including touching through clothing, with the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a person
Some forms of sexual contact can also be considered sexual assault of a child.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 21.11(a)(2) a person commits the offense of indecency with a child if he or she exposes his or her anus or genitals to a child or causes a child to expose his or her anus or genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify someone sexually.
Indecency with a Child Penalties
Indecency with a child by sexual contact is a second-degree felony, which carries a punishment of:
- 2 to 20 years of imprisonment
- A fine of up to $10,000
Indecency with a child by exposure is a third-degree felony, which carries a punishment of:
- 2 to 10 years imprisonment
- A fine of up to $10,000
A conviction would also mean having a sex crime on your permanent record and having to register as a sex offender. A person who is required to register as a sex offender may be prohibited from working in certain careers or from living, working, or even visiting specific properties, such as schools or playgrounds.
It is also important to understand that mere accusations of indecency with a child will likely involve a Texas Department of Family Services (TDFS) investigation. This is a separate investigation from the criminal process and could result in your child being removed from your custody if you are a parent. You have the right to representation in this process and should consult with an attorney as soon as you learn of an investigation in order to protect your rights as a parent.
Affirmative Defenses to an Indecency with a Child Charge
There are two affirmative defenses to indecency with a child.
- The accused was the spouse of the child at the time of the offense
- The accused is not more than 3 years older than the victim and did not use duress, force or a threat of force against the victim.
Additionally, the accused and victim must be of the opposite sex and the accused must not already be a registered sex offender at the time of the offense.
Learn How an Experienced Houston Indecency with a Child Attorney Can Help You
Given the nature of the offense and the fact that a minor is involved, these types of cases tend to rely entirely on accusations. There are various motivating factors as to why a child would make false accusations against someone. For example, a parent may coerce or coach a child to make false accusations against the other parent in an attempt to gain sole custody in a divorce or child custody dispute. It is also possible that improper questioning by law enforcement or a teacher could lead to false allegations or a misunderstanding of an event.
If you have been accused of indecency with a child, you need to consult with an experienced Houston child sex crimes attorney as soon as possible. Houston defense attorney Ned Barnett has over 20 years of experience defending clients against serious sex crime charges and he will do everything necessary to protect your reputation and rights. With his extensive experience and training, he is highly qualified to identify and expose false allegations.
Mr. Barnett is a board certified criminal lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a recognized leader in criminal defense law. Before opening his own practice in 1994, he honed his trial skills as federal and state prosecutor in the Houston area. He will review all the evidence in your case and develop an effective defense strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.
Contact the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at to schedule a confidential consultation about your case.