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what are harris county sex abuse charges?

What are Harris County Child Sex Abuse Charges?

Published: Dec 13, 2019 in Sex Crimes, Sex Crimes Involving Children

If you are facing Harris County child sex abuse charges, you need to act fast to avoid devastating criminal penalties and the collateral consequences of a sex crime conviction. The stakes are particularly high when the alleged victim is a child, because of enhanced penalties and increased pressure on the judge and prosecutor to bring the suspect to justice. This means that you will need to fight hard to prove your innocence and clear your name. Fortunately, a Houston child sex crimes lawyer can review your case and give it the best possible defense under the circumstances.

At the Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we have a proven track record of resolving serious sex crime charges favorably. Defending these cases requires a specific skill set–even more so when the alleged offense involves a child or children. Different evidence rules, trial procedures, and cross-examination techniques apply to child sex crimes, so choose a lawyer with significant experience in this area of law.

To learn more about how we can defend you, call (713) 222-6767 for a free and confidential consultation.

Child Sex Abuse Involve Several Texas Statutes

A child sex abuse case could involve several Texas child sex crime statutes that each cover specific conduct, specific victim profiles, and specific punishments.

In Texas, the age of sexual consent is 17 years, so any sexual contact by an adult with someone of this age is potentially a crime. Section 261.001 of the Texas family code defines “abuse” as sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare,” and cites as examples the following criminal statutes:

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child or Children– Section 21.02 of the Texas Penal Code applies when a person commits two or more acts of sexual abuse against a child or children over a thirty day period. For this statute to apply, the alleged victim must be younger than 14, and the perpetrator must be at least 17.

For purposes of this statute, acts of sexual abuse may include aggravated kidnapping with intent to sexually abuse, indecency with a child involving more than just touching, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, burglary with intent to sexually abuse, sexual performance by a child, trafficking, and compelling prostitution.

This is an extremely serious offense charged as a first degree felony, which carries a prison sentence of 25 to 99 years.

Indecency with a Child–Section 21.11 of the Penal Code prohibits anyone over the age of 17 from engaging in sexual conduct with a child under the age of 17. Sexual conduct in this context may include touching a child’s private parts, even through clothing.

This offense prohibits exposing oneself to a child or causing the child to expose themselves with the intent to gratify a sexual desire. You can successfully defend against this charge if you can show that you were no more than three years older than the victim, that you did not use threats or duress, and that you were not a registered sex offender at the time of the offense.

Depending on the circumstances, this may be charged as a second or third degree felony.

Sexual assault–Texas Penal Code section 22.011 may be violated by engaging in nonconsensual sex. But it’s also possible to face these charges if you engage in consensual sex with someone under the age of 17–even if you were unaware of their age. Sexual assault is generally a felony of the second degree punishable by two to 20 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.

Aggravated sexual assault–The requirements for violating Texas Penal Code Section 22.021 are the same as for sexual assault, but with added aggravating factors. These aggravated factors may be activated if the alleged victim was under the age of 14, of if the victim was harmed or put in reasonable fear of serious injury during the assault. Aggravated sexual assault is a felony of the first degree with a minimum term of imprisonment of 25 years if the alleged victim was under the age of 14 at the time of the offense.

The important thing to take away is that your belief that someone was 17 or older is not a defense to any of these offenses. Furthermore, a conviction for any of these offenses is a felony requiring you to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years and in some cases, for life. This all means that you should only entrust the defense of your case to an experienced sex crimes lawyer who can effectively fight for a fair outcome on your behalf.

How a Houston Sex Crimes Attorney Can Help

At the Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we have decades of experience in Texas child sex crimes cases. This gives us the ability to formulate winning defense strategies and to effectively implement them at every stage of the criminal justice process. If you have been charged with a child sex crime, it is essential that you exercise your rights to remain silent and to have a lawyer by your side.

For a free consultation about your case, call us today at (713) 222-6767.