Child grooming crimes carry severe legal consequences for those who are convicted of this kind of misconduct. Yet, the offense itself isn’t always easy to understand. The way that the phrase “groomer” is often used in popular culture doesn’t accurately reflect what it means as a Texas criminal offense.
At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we are experienced in defending clients in sex crime cases, including those involving child grooming charges. Contact our Austin criminal defense lawyers right away to get experienced representation from former prosecutors and judges.
What Does The Law Say?
Under Texas Statutes Section 15.032, an individual commits child grooming if they intentionally persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a child under 18 years to engage in or otherwise be involved in conduct that would either be an offense categorized as public indecency or involve sexual activity (e.g., trafficking, sexual offenses, assaults).
Child grooming is classified as a felony. It is generally classified as a third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, but may escalate to a second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the perpetrator has prior convictions for specific offenses involving minors, such as continuous sexual abuse of a young child, trafficking, sexual assault of a child, indecency with a child, or aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Can Child Grooming Charges Be Fought?
Affirmative Defense For Minor Offenders
The law does recognize an affirmative defense for certain situations where both the actor and the child are minors. This defense applies if the actor is under 18 and the conduct in question involves another child who is not more than three years older or younger and with whom they had a dating relationship or were married at the time of the offense. The defense is valid only if the conduct was exclusively between the individual and the other minor. This defense emphasizes the importance of considering the relative ages and relationship status of both parties involved in the alleged grooming activity.
Lack Of Intent
Another potential defense involves challenging the prosecution's assertion of intent. Under the law, to be convicted of child grooming, the individual must have intentionally engaged in actions aimed at involving a minor in sexual offenses. Demonstrating that the individual lacked this specific intent or that their actions were misinterpreted can be a powerful defense. This could involve providing evidence that the interactions with the minor were innocent or had a legitimate purpose unrelated to any criminal intent.
No Overt Act To Facilitate An Offense
This defense revolves around the requirement that the individual must have taken concrete steps to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce the minor into illegal activity. If it can be shown that the individual did not actually engage in any act that directly facilitated a criminal offense involving the minor, this could serve as a defense. This might involve demonstrating that the interactions with the minor were passive or non-directive, and that the individual did not actively seek to involve the minor in any criminal activity.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Grooming
What Constitutes Child Grooming Under Texas Law?
Child grooming is knowingly persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a child under the age of 18 to engage in sexual offenses or make them a party to such offenses.
Is It Still Child Grooming If The Minor Seemed Willing To Participate?
Yes. The law specifically targets the actions of the adult in manipulating or influencing a minor towards sexual offenses, regardless of the minor's response.
How Severe Are The Penalties For A Child Grooming Conviction In Texas?
Child grooming is classified as a felony in Texas. Depending on the circumstances, an individual could face 2-20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Can A Minor Be Charged With Child Grooming?
The law details a specific affirmative defense for minors engaged in such conduct with another minor who is not more than three years older or younger and with whom they had a dating relationship or were married. This defense recognizes the different legal considerations when both parties involved are minors.
Contact The Child Grooming Lawyers At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC for Representation
If you have been accused of child grooming, know that this is a sex crime that can result in lifelong consequences if you’re convicted. As a result, it's crucial to seek experienced legal representation immediately. The criminal defense lawyers at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC focus on handling sensitive and complex cases like yours. To discuss your case and explore your legal options, please contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC at (512) 991-0576 or reach out to us online today.
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