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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.