Indecency with a child is considered a grave offense in Texas, as it can result in a serious jail sentence, big fine, and a host of other consequences. Unfortunately, false accusations of this kind of misconduct are made against Texans with some regularity. If you have been charged with this child sex crime, it is imperative that you understand the gravity of your situation and turn to a sex crime defense lawyer from Cofer & Connelly, PLLC for guidance and direction.
If accused, schedule a confidential consultation with the sex crime defense attorneys at our firm to start safeguarding your rights and interests.
What Does The Law Say?
According to Texas Penal Code Section 21.11, an indecency with a child offense can occur under two primary circumstances:
Sexual Contact With A Child
The first circumstance involves engaging in sexual contact with a child or causing a child to engage in such contact. It's important to note that the law defines a child as anyone younger than 17 years of age, regardless of the child's sex or the perpetrator's awareness of the child's age at the time of the offense.
Acts With Intent To Arouse Or Gratify Sexual Desire
The second circumstance pertains to actions taken with the intent to arouse or gratify an adult’s sexual desire. This includes exposing one's genitals or anus or causing the a to expose theirs while knowing that the child in question is present.
The law classifies offenses under this section based on the nature of the act:
- A crime involving sexual contact, is classified as a felony of the 2nd degree punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- A crime related to acts intended to arouse or gratify sexual desire, is classified as a felony of the 3rd degree punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Defenses for Indecency with a Child
Affirmative Defense Concerning Age and Relationship
One of the primary defenses to a charge of indecency with a child is an affirmative defense related to the age and relationship between the individual and the alleged victim. The following affirmative defense is detailed in the state’s law and applies under the following circumstances:
- The alleged offender was not more than 3 years older than the alleged victim and did not use duress, force, or threats during the offense.
- At the time of the offense, the alleged offender was not required to register as a sex offender.
This defense acknowledges the closeness in age and consensual nature of a potential relationship between teens, potentially negating the severity or intent of the offense. An affirmative defense may also apply if the alleged offender in question was the spouse of the victim at the time of the conduct at issue.
Challenging the Intent to Arouse or Gratify Sexual Desire
Defense strategies may also focus on challenging the intent behind the individual's actions. An offense is only unlawful under one subsection of this law if actions are taken with the intent to arouse or gratify anyone's sexual desire. Challenging the presence of this intent can be a crucial aspect of one’s defense, especially in scenarios where the actions of the individual can be attributed to reasons other than sexual gratification or arousal.
Questioning the Evidence of Sexual Contact
A defense to a sexual contact offense might involve questioning the validity, accuracy, or sufficiency of the evidence presented regarding sexual contact. The defense can focus on inconsistencies, lack of physical evidence, or unreliable witness testimonies to challenge the allegations of sexual contact with a child.
Frequently Asked Questions About Indecency With A Child
What Constitutes Indecency With A Child In Texas?
Indecency with a child involves either engaging in sexual contact with a child younger than 17 years of age or committing acts with the intent to arouse or gratify sexual desire in the presence of such a child.
What Are The Legal Consequences Of A Conviction?
Engaging in sexual contact is classified as a felony of the second degree punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while actions intended to arouse or gratify sexual desire are classified as felonies of the third degree punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Both types of felonies can lead to a $10,000 fine.
Can Ignorance Of A Child’s Age Be Used As A Defense?
The law specifically states that an offense can occur regardless of whether the person knows the age of the child at the time of the offense. Therefore, claiming ignorance of the child’s age is typically not a valid defense in these cases.
Are There Any Defenses Available For These Charges?
Yes, there are several affirmative defenses available under the statute. These include scenarios where the individual is close in age to the alleged victim combined with an absence of duress or force.
What Should I Do If I'm Accused Of This Offense?
If you are accused of indecency with a child, it is imperative to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can help navigate the legal system, advise on your rights, and develop a defense strategy tailored to the circumstances of your specific case.
Seek Legal Representation From Cofer & Connelly, PLLC
If you have been accused of indecency with a child, know that this is considered a sex crime under Texas law. A sex offender label could follow you for life if you do not do everything in your power to fight back against the charges you’re facing. It is, therefore, crucial to seek experienced legal representation from a respected sex crimes lawyer immediately. The criminal defense lawyers at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC are well-versed in handling such sensitive and complex cases. Our team will work diligently to protect your rights and strive for one of the best possible outcomes in your case. The stakes of your situation are far too high for you to go it alone. Contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC at (512) 991-0576 or online for representation in an indecency with a child case.
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