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Child Molestation Laws in Texas

by
author image Roger Thorne
Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.
Child Molestation Laws in Texas
Child molestation is a serious crime in Texas. Photo Credit Maria Teijeiro/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Child molestation is a crime involving sexual or inappropriate contact between an adult and a child. Commonly referred to as pedophilia, child abuse or child rape, molestation is a serious crime. Texas has several laws that apply to molestation cases, all of which provide for criminal penalties for any violator.

Definition

Texas law deals with child molestation in terms of sexual abuse or sexual conduct or indecency with a child. The law considers anyone younger than the age of 17 a child, though more significant penalties can apply if the child is younger. For example, Texas Penal Code section 21.11 criminalizes indecency with a child as sexual contact with a child, and charges it as a third degree felony. Continual sexual abuse of a child, as defined in Texas Penal Code 21.02, is two or more acts of sexual contact between a person older than 17 and younger than14, and is charged as first-degree felony.

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Types

Child molestation in Texas is covered by different state laws. For example, Texas Penal Code section 21.02 makes it a crime for anyone 17 or older to engage in sexual conduct with a child. Further, Texas Family Code section 261.109 states that it is a crime for anyone with knowledge or cause to believe that a child is being subject to mental or physical abuse and not report it.

Consequences

Child molestation and any related charges are always a serious issue, with convictions bringing significant penalties. For example, failing to report suspected child abuse is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to $4,000 in fines and up to a year in jail. A conviction for continuous sexual abuse of a child is a first-degree felony, with potential punishments of up to $10,000 in fines and no more than 99 years and no less than five years imprisonment.

Considerations

Like any other crime, child molestation charges are subject to statutes of limitation. According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure section 12.02, misdemeanor charges must be brought within two years from the date of commission. Sexual assaults, including sexual abuse of a child, have no limitation, and a charge for these offenses can be brought at any time.

Warning

Child molestation, abuse and child welfare issues are very serious. It is always in your best interests to seek the advice of a qualified attorney any time you are involved in such a case, or have concerns about the potentially criminal conduct of someone else regarding a child. Not only can the laws concerning these issues change, but only a lawyer can give you legal advice about your case.

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References

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