Child Molestation Allegations in Texas Custody DisputesPublished: Jan 04, 2019 in Child Sex Crimes, Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes
When you and your children’s other parent are fighting for custody, you each may do and say things you would never have expected. It is a contentious situation that will impact your children’s lives and futures. While you may strive to obtain shared or full custody within the bounds of the law, some parents will use lies and false allegations of crimes to get ahead.
At The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we have worked with many parents who have wrongly been accused of child molestation during custody disputes. These accusations may lead to a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation, a law enforcement investigation, an arrest, and in some cases, criminal charges.
As a parent facing such devastating allegations, your best option is to hire an experienced Houston child sex abuse lawyer like attorney Ned Barnett. Your family law attorney is not equipped to properly defend you within the criminal justice system.
Texas Child Molestation Laws
If you are accused of inappropriate and sexual conduct involving a child, then you may face charges for one or several sex crimes in Texas. Depending on the evidence gathered during a law enforcement investigation, you could face charges of the following:
Indecency with a Child (Texas Penal Code Section 21.11(a)(1))
If you do any of the following, you can be found guilty of indecency with a child under Texas law:
- Engage in sexual contact or cause the child to engage a child to engage in sexual contact with you
- Expose your anus or genitals or cause a child to expose their anus or genitals with the intent of arousal or gratifying a sexual desire
Indecency by contact is a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison, and fines reaching $10,000. Indecency by exposure, however, is a third-degree felony that can bring with it two to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Sexual Assault (Texas Penal Code Section 22.011)
This offense encompasses intentionally or knowingly causing the penetration of a victim’s anus or sexual organ by any means without their consent. Texas does not have a separate statute for sexual assault of a child. This is typically charged as a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. However, if you are charged with aggravated or super aggravated sexual assault of a child, then you can be charged with a first-degree felony. This is punishable by anywhere between five years to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Each degree of the crime also brings with it hefty fines.
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child (Texas Penal Code Section 21.02)
If you are found to have committed at least two instances of child sex abuse against a child under the age of 14 over the course of a 30-day period, you can face first-degree felony charges that are punishable by:
- 25 – 99 years in prison (for a first offense)
- Life in prison without the possibility of parole (for a second offense)
- Fines, sex offender registration, and other collateral consequences
Protect Yourself During Investigations
When you are accused of child molestation during a Texas custody battle, you will not be immediately charged with a criminal offense. However, police and CPS will be informed, and you may be placed under investigation. You need to immediately take steps to protect your rights and defend yourself. The best thing to do is to contact a Houston sex crimes defense attorney.
You should have a criminal defense lawyer present with you whenever you speak to a law enforcement officer. Your attorney will help you answer questions efficiently, truthfully, and in a way that does not accidentally incriminate yourself. Law enforcement is often looking for any sign that allegations are true.
With an experienced lawyer protecting you, you are more likely to convince the police that you are the victim of false accusations, which were leveled to impact your child custody dispute.
Do Not Underestimate a CPS Investigation
Just as you would protect yourself during a police investigation, you need to protect yourself and your children during a CPS investigation. Anything you say to a CPS investigator or employee can be used against you during an investigation and later in court.
If a CPS investigator comes to your house and asks to come in, you should politely say no. If a CPS investigator calls you to talk, you should decline. Calmly ask to reschedule at a time when your attorney can be present. You have the right to a lawyer when speaking with CPS investigator, and you have the right to remain silent. You should hire an experienced defense attorney and have them present at any meetings with CPS.
Contact a Houston Child Sex Abuse Lawyer for Help
When your reputation and freedom, in addition to your children’s future are at stake, you need to do everything you can to protect your family. In the face of child molestation accusations, the thing you can do for yourself is to hire a highly experienced defense attorney. Attorney Ned Barnett has years of experiencing helping clients who have been falsely accused of child molestation and similar acts.