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Houston Family Violence Attorney

Violence that occurs within families is especially destructive emotionally and psychologically. The safety of a family can warp into the incestuous abuse of family members and all the terrible consequences that entails. Breakdowns of family relationships can spur deep feelings of betrayal and a very unhealthy need for revenge. Those feelings not infrequently lead to extreme actions ranging from physical violence to kidnappings during custody disputes.

Texas has no central law that deals with family violence which is why it is important to meet with a Houston family violence lawyer to discuss the several specific types of family violence crimes and the varying severity by different laws.

Types of Family Violence Laws in Houston


Incest involves sexual contact between family members. Incest is likely underreported, due to family shame or the fact that many victims are too young and afraid to report the problem to family members. Texas has a specific incest statute, directed at “prohibited sexual conduct.” Under this law, it is a criminal offense for family members to have either:

  • Sexual intercourse (male organ penetrating a female organ); or
  • Deviate sexual intercourse (essentially oral or anal sex).

The list of relationships that fall under this prohibition is extensive, ranging from parents and children to siblings to cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. It isn’t just full blood relatives who are prohibited from having sex; the prohibition extends to people who are family by half blood, adoption, step-parent or step-child status.

If the offense involves sex with an “ancestor or descendant,” the crime is a second-degree felony. Other violations are a less severe third-degree felony.

Custodial Interference

Various situations in which a family member takes a child from another family member are treated as criminal offenses under a Texas law that targets “custodial interference.” Under that law, it’s a crime to either take or retain possession of a child younger than 18 when:

  • The person doing so knows that this violates a judgment or order (including a temporary order).
  • The person was not awarded custody of the child and takes the child outside the jurisdiction of a court considering the custody issue (returning to the jurisdiction within 3 days is a defense).
  • The person takes the child outside of the United States in order to deny possession or access to the child to someone who is entitled possession or access, and does so without that person’s permission.

Even if you don’t physically take or retain the child yourself, it’s a crime under this law if you are a noncustodial parent and you “entice or persuade” the child to leave someone who has legal custody.

These cases are always complicated and become even more so if the child is taken across state lines, or out of the country, in which case several federal laws and federal agencies may come into play. The cases become yet more complicated if the person who took the child claims to have been fleeing to escape family violence. Violation of this law is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

General Kidnapping

When the circumstances warrant it, the general kidnapping law, a third-degree felony, can apply to cases in which a parent abducts a child. For example, the general kidnapping law has been applied to convict a father of abducting his child from the home of the mother, whom the father had never married. Although the father’s paternity was proved, he had never made any attempt to obtain legal custody of the child, and couldn’t claim the affirmative defense that his only intent in abducting the child was to “assume lawful control.”

Continuous Violence against the Family

In Texas, you can be convicted of a third-degree felony for “continuous violence” against specified family members. The law requires that, for a conviction, you caused the family member physical injury which would amount to assault, and did so at least twice in a year or less. Injuring multiple family members in a way and with a frequency that satisfies the law’s requirements can result in multiple convictions.

Legal Defense against Houston Charges of Family Violence

If you’ve been accused of a violent crime against your family or one of its members, you need highly competent legal representation. Call the Houston, Texas, firm of Mary E. Conn Law today. Mary E. Conn is a top-rated Texas Houston family violence attorney with more than 30 years of experience in successfully handling cases that involve family violence and sex crimes of all types. Mary E. Conn and her staff understand how sensitive these cases are, and how destructive they can be for everyone involved. Contact Mary E. Conn Law for the help you need. The consultation is free.