The most serious crime under Texas law besides murder is continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14. A conviction for this offense could expose you to a decades-long prison sentence without the possibility of parole, which is why you should call a Houston child sex abuse attorney immediately if you’ve been arrested or charged. We offer free consultations and can be reached at (713) 222-6767 to defend your rights immediately.
This law is set up to make it easier for prosecutions to obtain your conviction even when a jury can’t agree to what specific abuse you may have committed. If you get charged with continuous sexual abuse, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney you can find if you want to stand a chance of avoiding a conviction.
Continuous sexual abuse became a crime in Texas in 2007. Around this time, several states across the nation enacted tougher child abuse legislation in the wake of the rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old Floridian whose death shocked the nation. While each “Jessica’s Law” is slightly different in every jurisdiction, the purpose of these new statutes is to provide a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence without the possibility of parole for adults who engage in a sexually abusive relationship with a child that involves a pattern of sexual acts.
What Are the Penalties for Continuous Sexual Abuse in Texas?
According to Texas Penal Code section 21.02, people convicted of continuous sexual abuse will face 25 to 99 years or life for a first offense or life in prison without parole for a second offense. There is no possibility for early release from prison.
Additionally, you may face collateral consequences for a conviction for this felony. You will have to register as a sex offender for life upon your release from prison, you will not be able to own a firearm, and your chances of obtaining employment will be severely reduced.
To successfully convict you, a prosecutor would need to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed at least two of any of the following types of abuse against a child under 14 over the course of a period of at least 30 days:
- Indecency with a Child — Touching the child’s genitals or anus.
- Sexual Assault — Any contact between your genitals, anus, or mouth and the child, or vice versa.
- Aggravated Sexual Assault — When the assault involves a deadly weapon or injury.
- Aggravated Kidnapping — With the intent of violating or sexually abusing the victim.
- Burglary — With the intent of committing a sexual offense.
- Sexual Performance by a Child — When an adult of guardian causes or consents to a child performing sex acts.
When indicting you for this crime, the prosecutor can charge you with committing these acts against one or more child victims. Oftentimes, the charges result from an investigation performed by Child Protective Services, so if they have contacted you, it may be time to call a Houston continuous sexual abuse of a child lawyer. It doesn’t matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred. There is no statute of limitations for continuous sexual abuse.
To obtain a conviction, all the prosecutor needs is to convince the jury that at least two instances of abuse happened. The jury does not need to agree on what specific acts of abuse occurred, meaning that a conviction might occur as a result of vague accusations and weak evidence. That’s why it’s crucial to have the help of a skilled and experienced Houston child sex abuse lawyer who can build a strong defense to your charge.
Contact an Experienced Houston Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child Lawyer
Criminal defendants are particularly vulnerable when facing continuous sexual abuse charges. The consequences of a conviction are particularly severe, and the prosecutor can obtain a conviction even if the jury cannot agree as to what specific acts of abuse you committed. These cases are difficult to defend, so you need a Houston child sex abuse lawyer who can rise to the challenge.
Ned Barnett has almost three decades of experience working in criminal law, and has handled many sex crimes and child abuse cases as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. Working on these cases from the perspective of the prosecution and the defense has given him extensive knowledge into how these cases are put together and where their weakness may lie.
Barnett may be able to defend against your continuous sexual abuse charge by applying one or more of the following defense strategies:
- Romeo and Juliet defense — You may escape a conviction if you were no more than 5 years older than the victim, you were not a registered sex offender, and you did not use duress, force, or threats.
- Impeaching the witnesses — Sexual abuse cases rely heavily on the testimony of witnesses, and if your lawyer can show that they are unreliable or have a motive for lying, the prosecution won’t be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Showing the allegations are untrue — Your lawyer can challenge the medical records purporting to show that sexual contact occurred, or provide evidence or testimony demonstrating that you were not present when the alleged abuse occurred.
Every case is different, so to find out how you can avoid a conviction for continuous sexual abuse of a child, you should consult with a reputable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Recently placed on the Super Lawyers list for the best criminal defense lawyers in the area, Ned Barnett is the top choice for suspects who want to avoid the harsh penalties for sex crimes in Texas.
Call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at (713) 222-6767 for your confidential consultation.