Our news and social media are full of reports of minors being molested in one way or another, by adults who range from clergy to babysitters to relatives to coaches. Victims may be as young as an infant, or as old as a teenager just under the age of consent. The crimes are widely publicized and strongly condemned. Penalties for conviction are severe, with the most serious crimes classified as first-degree felonies.
Few crimes create as much public outrage as molestation. The outrage and increased awareness result in some good: children are more protected and molesters are more likely to be identified and caught. But it can also result in the community – including police, neighbors, and family members – becoming so sensitive to the possibility of molestation that they make a false accusation.
Texas has several different laws that describe specific types of sexual activity with someone under the age of 17, under which child molesters may be charged depending on the nature of the activity, such as:
Sexual abuse of a child is specifically defined to include all four of the crimes above, as well as any sexual conduct that is harmful to the emotional, mental, or physical welfare of the child.
Many child molestation cases are charged as indecency with a child. That crime covers four basic types of sexual activity involving a child under the age of 17:
All four crimes require that the act was performed with the intent to “arouse or gratify” sexual desires.
The law specifically recognizes two “affirmative defenses” (admitting you performed the acts, but with a good excuse):
Since the victims of child molestation are children, it’s sometimes impossible and frequently difficult for the child to report the crime. In most cases, though, there are adults in position to know or suspect that the child is being abused. Texas places a legal responsibility on those adults, especially professionals, to report abuse. In fact, the duty to report extends to cases in which there is “cause to believe” that someone who is now an adult was abused as a child, and disclosing that fact is required in order to protect another child.
Violation of the duty to report abuse is at least a misdemeanor, and can rise to a felony under some circumstances.
Defenses to child molestation charges generally consist of one or more of the following:
Conviction of child molestation charges brings harsh penalties. For example, all forms of the offense of indecency with a child are felonies of either the second or third degree. Even acquittals won’t erase the stigma of the charge, and there will always be people who doubt your innocence.
The best time to get knowledgeable legal help is before you have been charged. An experienced Texas sex crime lawyer may be able to help you in many ways, from minimizing public condemnation to establishing your innocence.
If you have been, or think you may be, charged with molesting a child, call the Houston, Texas, attorneys of Mary E. Conn Law today. Mary E. Conn is a top-rated criminal defense attorney with more than 30 years of experience in successfully handling these cases. You can expect courtesy, two-way communications, and diligent work at all times. Call Mary E. Conn Law today for your free consultation.