If you face a charge of indecency with a child, you should know how Texas law deals with such charges.
First, you should know that Texas law on indecency with a child (a person under 17 years old) divides the offense into two categories: exposure, which involves no contact, and having sexual contact or causing the child to engage in sexual contact.
Each is a felony crime and must be taken seriously since indecency with a child is a major offense in Texas. If you’re already a registered sex offender or if you have previous felony convictions, the punishments for indecent exposure with a child can be much harsher.
Indecency with a Child by Exposure
Indecent exposure involves an adult exposing his or her anus or genitals to a child, or causing the child to expose his or her anus or genitals — for the explicit purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the adult.
For a person with no prior criminal record, this charge is a third-degree felony, for which punishment includes two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Indecency with a Child by Contact
As for sexual contact (sometimes called fondling), that involves an adult touching a child’s anus, genitals or breasts, above or under clothing, or causing a child to touch someone else’s anus, genitals or breasts, above or under clothing.
Penetration isn’t required for this charge, and if penetration did occur, the charge likely would be elevated to sexual assault.
A sexual contact charge is a second-degree felony, for which punishment in Texas includes two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Fighting a Child Sex Offense Charge
Keep in mind there is no statute of limitations for indecency with a child charges. That means you could be prosecuted at any time — even many years after the alleged incident.
As for your defense against a charge of indecency with a child in Texas (via exposure or contact), that can include an affirmative defense based on age. Such a defense could apply if the person charged:
- Was no more than three years older than the alleged victim;
- Didn’t use threats, force or duress against the child;
- Was of the opposite sex than the child;
- Wasn’t already registered as a sex offender.
Another option is to plead “no contest” or “guilty” in exchange for what’s known as deferred adjudication community supervision, or probation. The judge in the case can do this if they believe it’s in the best interests of the community.
Also, if it can be proven that it’s in the best interests of the victim for a convicted defendant not to be imprisoned, but rather placed under community supervision, then a judge may choose to reduce the sentence.
For the charge of indecency with a child, the length of probation cannot be less than five years. Such probation can be modified, extended, or revoked if the defendant causes problems during probation.
Another defense can be to refute the claim altogether.
Your lawyer may discover that the accusation was false and likely made to gain leverage in a child custody fight or other legal battle. In fact, this is alleged to be the case for a prominent Houston chef who recently faced two counts of indecency with a child.
Contact the Neal Davis Law Firm so that an experienced Texas sex crime lawyer for Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County can help you plan the proper legal course. Notify us immediately for a legal review of your case. It’s confidential and at no obligation to you.