The criminal justice system is particularly harsh when it comes to sex offenders. Even the mere accusation alone has devastating consequences on your personal and professional lives.
A Houston indecency with a child attorney could help you clear your name and avoid criminal prosecution. If you face child indecency charges, call Houston child sex abuse lawyer Ned Barnett, a skilled trial lawyer with nearly thirty years of sex crime defense experience.
Call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at (713) 222-6767 to schedule your free consultation.
Defining Indecency With a Child in Texas
In Texas, indecency with a child 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 they engaged in sexual contact with a child or forced a child to engage in sexual contact. Sexual contact is actions with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, including:
- Touching (including through clothing) of a child’s breast, anus, or genitals using hands and fingers
- Touching (including through clothing) of any body part of a child, with a person’s anus, breast, or genitals
Child Sexual Assault
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:
- They expose their anus or genitals to a child, or
- They force a child to expose their anus or genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify someone sexually.
How a Houston Indecency With a Child Attorney Helps
Attorney Barnett 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.
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 a misunderstanding.
Attorney Barnett carefully evaluates the circumstances, history, and involved parties in your case. 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.
Defending Indecency With a Child Charges in Texas
The consequences of a conviction are dire. You must take steps to defend yourself. Start by hiring a criminal defender. Don’t rely on an overworked public defender to handle your defense. With penalties this severe, you need an attorney who can give your case the attention it deserves.
Your lawyer can analyze the details of your case to figure out how to best approach your defense strategy.
Some common defenses for child sex crimes in Texas include:
- Lack of probable cause
- Illegal search and seizure
- Mistake of fact
- Lack of mental capacity
Before opening his practice in 1994, attorney Barnett honed his trial skills as a 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.
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 three years older than the victim and did not use coercion, force, or a threat of force against the victim
Additionally, the accused and victim must be of the opposite sex. The accused must not already be a registered sex offender at the time of the offense.
Penalties for Child Indecency Conviction
The consequences of indecency with a child conviction are harsh.
Indecency with a child by sexual contact is a second-degree felony with a punishment of:
- Two to 20 years imprisonment
- A fine of up to $10,000
Indecency with a child by exposure is a third-degree felony, which carries a punishment of:
- Two 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 required to register as a sex offender may be prohibited from working in specific careers or living, working, or even visiting particular properties, such as schools or playgrounds.
Collateral Consequences After Conviction
Loss of Custody/Parental Rights
Merely 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.
A Houston indecency with a child attorney helps protect your rights as a parent.
Your life could be affected in 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
These are only a few of the penalties you could face if convicted of charges related to indecency with a child. It would help if you had a solid legal defense to help you dodge a conviction and get back to your life.
Contact a Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer Today
Are you accused of indecency with a child? Consult with an experienced Houston child sex crimes attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Ned Barnett is a board-certified criminal defense lawyer with decades of experience defending clients against serious sex crime charges.