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Understanding Texas Child Sexual Molestation Laws

Child abuse and molestation is one of the most detestable crimes in our society, and each and every abuser should be brought to justice. While all states take this criminal offense seriously, Texas child sexual molestation laws are some of the strictest. While bringing the perpetrator to justice may seem like an emotionally difficult and demanding task, punishment for the offender can not only be an important part of the healing process for the victim, but can also save other children from the same fate. Knowing the laws on child molestation can help you and your family fight for what’s right and avoid getting taken by surprise during the proceedings.

HOW IS IT DEFINED?

Most innocent children are unaware of the boundaries adults or even other minors can and cannot cross, especially by those whom they trust. Child abuse in Texas is defined as indecency, sexual contact or sexual abuse of a minor, anyone under the age of 17. The Texas Family Code is used as the basis of civil actions to protect a child from a dangerous home situation and has defined child abuse as ‘an act or omission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development.’ Sexual abuse offenses aren’t only limited to sexual contact with a child, but also include the attempted sexual gratification of an individual or group, and exposure of genitals, either those of the offender or the child.

OTHER TYPES OF SEXUAL ABUSE

The Texas Penal Code, Chapter 21, defines many types of sexual abuse specific to children. Continuous sexual abuse of a child is any deviate sexual contact with one or more children, two or more times. In this situation, the victim must be under 14 years of age, and the accused 17 years of age or older. Aggravated kidnapping is when an offender abducts or lures away a child with the intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually. Sexual performance, trafficking or prostitution by a child is also punishable under this section. Improper relationships between teacher and student are also punishable by Texas child sexual molestation laws and considered a second-degree felony.

PUNISHMENT FOR OFFENDERS

Taking action in the event of child abuse is very important, not only to the abused, but also other at-risk children. The Texas Penal Code, which is the base for criminal prosecution, charges sexual indecency with a child as a third degree felony. Other third degree felonies include assault and battery, driving under the influence, arson and embezzlement. Offenders can receive between two and ten years in jail and a variety of fines. Continued sexual assault of a minor is charged as a first-degree felony, punishable by fines up to $10,000 and between 5 and 99 years in jail, determined by the severity of the crime.

CRIMINAL VS. CIVIL CASES

Civil cases are usually private disputes between individuals or organizations, and often result in monetary gain. A civil case begins by when a party, called the plaintiff, claims the defendant has not fulfilled an owed legal obligation. The award may either be completion of the service, or financial payment for damages and retribution. Civil cases can also be used to fight for justice in the event of violations of federal statues or constitutional rights violations.

Criminal cases are those cases that involve an action that is seen as harmful to society as a whole. Formal accusations of a crime are presented to an accused individual in the form of an indictment. In many instances, the U.S. government or U.S. Attorneys Office prosecutes the accused on behalf of the American people.

Endangering the mental and physical health of others, especially children, is a serious offense. Bringing those responsible for these violations to justice is important not only to a victim’s recovery, but also the protection of society. Knowing the laws and punishments for child molestation in Texas can help you understand what to expect in the event of criminal proceedings. Seeking out legal help that will help walk you through a stressful and trying abuse case can make it much easier on you and your family.

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