The justice system is harsh when it comes to sex offenders. Even the mere accusation has devastating consequences. One of the most damaging charges involves “Indecency with a Child.”
Such allegations need to be taken seriously and handled delicately with help from a capable criminal defense attorney. Early intervention is crucial to avoiding harsh penalties, clearing up misunderstandings, and clearing your name. If you’re arrested or accused of child indecency charges in Houston, call attorney Ned Barnett. As a skilled trial lawyer with nearly thirty years of sex crime defense experience, he can help.
Call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (281) 915-4802 to schedule your free and confidential consultation.
Indecency With a Child in Texas
In Texas, indecency with a child involves sexual contact or exposure with anyone under 17.
Texas Penal Code Section 21.11(a)(1) states that a person commits indecency with a child if they engage in sexual contact with or forces a child to engage in sexual contact. Sexual contact is acts with the intent to arouse or gratify, including:
- Touching (including through clothing) of a child’s breast, anus, or genitals using hands and fingers
- Touching (including through clothing) of any part of a child, with a person’s anus, breast, or genitals
Indecency with a Child by Exposure
Under Texas law, indecency with a child by exposure refers to someone exposing their genitals to a child or coercing a child to expose themselves, but without sexual contact. Indecency with a child by exposure is a third-degree felony, and a conviction could result in between 2 to 10 years in prison, a fine of as much as $10,000, or both.
It can sometimes be hard to tell what constitutes indecent exposure involving a child. And people are often shocked when they learn that they’ve been accused.
When determining whether an act can be considered indecency with a child by exposure, a lot depends on whether the accused had “intent to arouse or gratify a sexual desire.”
If you can show that any exposure was accidental or lacked any sexual intent, the charges should be dropped. For instance, if you urinated outside but near a schoolyard where a child saw, you can likely demonstrate that your actions were not sexually motivated.
Indecency with a Child by Contact
Section 21.11 also covers indecency with a child by contact. In Texas, this is a second-degree felony and occurs when someone physically touches a child to arouse or gratify a sexual desire.
If convicted, the penalties for indecency with a child by contact are between 2 and 20 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, or both.
Indecency with a child by contact is more severe than indecent exposure, and several aggravating factors may impact the penalties if convicted. These factors can include whether violence or a weapon was involved, any injuries to the child, and the accused’s criminal history.
The intent to arouse or gratify is still a requirement to support indecency with a child by contact, but other factual defenses may also apply. In some cases, people are misidentified by child victims, but the best way to sasses a situation is by consulting a sex crimes lawyer.
Other common defenses for indecency with a child are:
- Lack of probable cause
- Illegal search and seizure
- Mistake of fact
- Lack of mental capacity
Collateral Consequences of an Indecency with a Child
An accusation of indecency with a child will likely involve a Texas Department of Family Services investigation. This investigation is separate from the criminal process. You could lose custody of your child on a temporary or permanent basis.
Your life could also be affected in various other ways if you are found guilty of indecency with a child charge. In addition to the criminal and family law penalties you’ll endure, there are:
- Immigration or citizenship issues
- Loss of gun rights
- Trouble finding affordable, safe housing
- Difficulty finding employment
- Probation or parole requirements
How A Lawyer Helps if You’re Charged with Indecency with a Child
You must avoid the urge to cooperate with police and explain away an indecency with a child accusation. The statements you make may do more harm than good. Instead, let a lawyer protect your rights by handling questions, conducting a thorough investigation, and presenting an aggressive argument on your behalf.
Before opening his practice, attorney Ned Barnett honed his skills as a federal and state prosecutor in the Houston area. He knows how child sex cases are pursued and review all the evidence to develop an effective strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.
Indecency with child charges tends to rely entirely on accusations. Sometimes, a vengeful parent intent on gaining sole custody during a divorce might coach a child into making a false statement. Other times, adults ask improper or leading questions that result in false allegations or misunderstandings.
Attorney Barnett will carefully evaluate the circumstances, history, and parties involved. He looks for weakness in the prosecution’s case to seek a dismissal. Should your case go to trial, you may rest assured that criminal defense attorney Barnett prepares a robust defense pursuing an acquittal.
Contact the Offices of Ned Barnett
Are you accused of indecency with a child in Houston? Consult with an experienced Houston child sex crimes attorney as soon as possible.
Attorney Barnett has decades of experience defending clients against serious sex crime charges and is board certified as a criminal defense lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a distinction awarded to only a few select attorneys in the state.