Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child in Texas
In Texas, few crimes are as serious as sexual abuse of a child. However, within this category of offenses is another more serious crime called continuous sexual abuse of a child. This crime involves any type of sexual contact between an adult and a minor child under 14 years of age that occurs two or more times within a period of 30 days.
This can include crimes like sexual assault, indecency with a child or sexual performance by a child. If any of these actions occurs to a child younger than 14 years old twice or more within a 30-day period, a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child may be filed.
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child Penalties
Being charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child is a very serious matter. Many different actions can lead to this charge, including kidnapping a child for the purposes of sexual assault or breaking and entering for the purposes of sexually assaulting a child under 14 years of age. Even a first-time offender that is convicted of this crime may face serious consequences. Children are considered a protected class of citizens in Texas and any crimes that harm them may be punished especially harshly.
A first-time conviction for sexual abuse of a child in Texas can lead to:
- Conviction on a first-degree felony charge
- A minimum term of incarceration in state prison for 25 years
- A maximum term of incarceration in state prison for 99 years or a life term
- A $10,000 fine
Repeat offenders or anyone with a previous sexual offense conviction may receive an automatic term of incarceration for life in state prison.
There are other penalties for this crime in addition to prison time and steep fines. Anyone convicted of this crime or other sexually-based offenses in Texas will be required to register as a sex offender. This means that the convicted person will have to be entered in to a database that contains their name, their address and all of their personal information. They will have to report any changes in their address and may be legally barred from living in certain areas, having any contact with children or from obtaining certain kinds of jobs.
Additionally, they may not be allowed to receive government benefits or attend certain schools or educational programs.
People convicted of this crime may automatically be denied parole.
Building A Legal Defense
It is possible to defend against a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child. Even though many people involved in the case may be emotionally upset and presume guilt on the part of a defendant, the law states that the defendant is entitled to a fair trial. An attorney can help a defendant construct a strong legal defense to use in court.
There are several ways that a lawyer could help a defendant avoid a conviction on this charge. For example, if the case involves testimony from an ex-spouse, it may be possible for the defense attorney to submit evidence showing that the ex-spouse has a motive for revenge against the defendant. The ex-spouse may have coached the child to make certain claims or they may have made false statements in order to get revenge.
It may also be possible for the defense attorney to focus on a lack of physical evidence or to show evidence that highlights the child’s history of fabricating stories. If any of these tactics are successful, it may be possible for the court to drop the charges against the defendant or to offer the defendant a plea deal that includes a less severe sentence.