Austin Juvenile Sex Crime Attorney

As the parent of a juvenile (a child aged 10-16) charged with a sex crime in Austin, it's natural to feel heartbroken and overwhelmed. You want to protect your child regardless of the circumstances. Remember, just because your child is charged, it doesn't mean they are guilty. 

Juvenile sex crimes are serious and can really impact your child's future. If your child is facing charges, it’s essential to consult with an experienced lawyer right away for guidance and direction. Cofer & Connelly, PLLC criminal defense lawyers understand your situation and are here to help.

Talk to our juvenile sex crime lawyers about your child’s legal rights and the steps you should consider next. For a consultation, reach out to Cofer & Connelly, PLLC by calling (512) 991-0576 or contacting us online.

Types of Juvenile Sex Crimes in Texas

Indecent Exposure – TPC Section 21.08

If you show your private parts or backside to sexually excite or please someone, and you don't care if it upsets others who see it, you're committing indecent exposure. This is considered a Class B misdemeanor in Texas.

Indecent Assault – TPC Section 22.012

If you touch someone sexually without their permission, make them touch you, or expose yourself or them, it's indecent assault. This is a Class A misdemeanor.

Statutory Rape – TPC Section 22.011

You commit statutory rape in Texas if you have sexual relations with a minor, regardless of consent. Normally, this is a second-degree felony. But, if you're no more than three years older than the other child, both of you are at least 14 years old, and neither of you has to be a registered sex offender, then you might avoid charges.

Rape – TPC Section 22.011

If you sexually assault someone, meaning you engage in a sexual act without their consent, it's usually a second-degree felony rape (sexual assault). It could be a first-degree felony in some situations.

Aggravated Sexual Assault – TPC Section 22.021

Aggravated sexual assault is when you force someone into a sexual act against their will. This is particularly serious if you use a weapon or cause injury. It's a first-degree felony, especially if the victim is very young or if the crime is violent.

Molestation – TPC Section 21.11

Indecency with a child happens when you engage in sexual contact with someone younger than 17, or expose yourself or them for sexual arousal. If there's sexual contact, it's a second-degree felony; if it's exposure, it's a third-degree felony. However, you might not face charges if you're not more than three years older than the victim and of the opposite sex.

Invasive Visual Recording by a Juvenile – TPC Section 21.15

Invasive visual recording is when you record or share images of someone’s private areas without permission. This is a state jail felony in Texas.

Lewdness by a Juvenile – TPC Section 21.07

Public lewdness occurs when you knowingly do sexual acts in public or where others might see and be upset. This is a Class A misdemeanor.

Revenge Porn – TPC Section 21.16

If you share or promote pictures or videos that show another person's private parts or sexual acts without their consent, intending to harm them, you're committing revenge porn – a state jail felony in Texas.

Sexual Performance by a Child – TPC 43.25

Under Texas law, if you take part in any show or presentation with sexual acts involving children, it's considered sexual performance by a child. If the victim is under 14, it's a first-degree felony. If they’re older, it's a third-degree or second-degree felony depending on the circumstances. However, if you're not more than two years older than the child involved, you might have a defense.

Stalking – TPC Section 42.072

Stalking means repeatedly engaging in behavior directed at someone else that feels threatening and causes fear. This is a third-degree felony, which can increase to a second-degree felony if you've been convicted of stalking before.

Voyeurism – TPC Section 21.17

In Texas, voyeurism is when you watch someone in a private place without their permission for sexual pleasure. It's usually a Class C misdemeanor, but can escalate to a Class B misdemeanor for repeat offenses, or a state jail felony if the person watched is under 14.

Incest – TPC Section 25.02

This happens when you have sexual contact with certain family members, like siblings or ancestors. It's typically a third-degree felony.

Sexual Coercion – TPC Section 21.18

Sexual coercion is when you threaten to commit certain offenses to get sexual favors or intimate visuals. It's a state jail felony, escalating to a third-degree felony for repeat offenders.

Sexting – TPC Section 43.261

Sexting occurs when you send or have electronic images of someone under 18 in sexual situations. It's usually a Class C misdemeanor but can be more serious for repeat offenders or if intended to upset someone. It can become a Class B or A misdemeanor. However, there's a defense if the individuals were in a close-age dating relationship or married.

Obscenity – TPC Section 43.23

If you knowingly promote or have materials considered obscene, it's usually a Class A misdemeanor. If the material involves someone under 18, it can be a felony of the second degree. There's a defense if the material is possessed for legitimate reasons like medical or legal purposes.

Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor – TPC Section 43.24

If you sell, share, or show sexually explicit or offensive content to minors, you're committing a Class A misdemeanor. However, if you involve another minor in these activities, it becomes a third-degree felony.

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child or Disabled Individual – TPC Section 21.02

Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or disabled individual involves committing sexual abuse multiple times over 30 days or more against a child under 14 or a disabled person. This is a first-degree felony. But, if you're no more than five years older than the youngest victim, didn't use force or threats, and are not a registered sex offender or haven't been convicted of a similar offense before, you might have a defense to this particular charge.

Possession or Promotion of Lewd Visual Material Depicting a Child – TPC Section 43.262

If you knowingly have, try to view, or share pictures or videos of inappropriate images of a child under 18, it's a state jail felony. If you've done this before, it becomes a third-degree felony for one past offense and a second-degree felony for two or more. Consent of the child in the image doesn't change the illegality.

Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography – TPC Section 43.26

Having, attempting to view, or sharing sexual images or videos of a child under 18 is typically a third-degree felony. If you've been convicted of child pornography before, it can escalate to a second-degree felony for one prior, and a first-degree felony for two or more. However, if you're not more than two years older than the child depicted, there's a possible defense.

Obscene Display or Distribution – TPC Section 43.22

Intentionally showing or sharing obscene images or materials without regard for whether it offends or alarms others is a Class C misdemeanor.

Possible Defenses for a Juvenile Sex Crime Case

As a parent of a juvenile in Texas facing sex crime charges, you should know about certain defenses that might apply to your child's case, depending on the nature of the charge.

Lack of Knowledge or Intent

For some offenses, it must be proven that your child knowingly committed the crime. If your child didn't knowingly or intentionally commit a crime, this could be a defense.

Consent and Age Proximity

In cases like statutory rape, if your child is no more than three years older than the victim, and both are at least 14 without being required to register as sex offenders, this can be a defense. Similarly, if the defendant is not more than two years older in child pornography cases, this can be a defense.

Sexting and Relationship Exceptions

In sexting cases, if the people involved were in a close-age dating relationship (no more than two years apart) or married, it might not be a crime. Also, if your child received images but didn't keep them, they might not be charged.

Mental State and Coercion

The mental state of your child or circumstances of coercion can be important. If your child was forced into committing an act, this could be used in their defense.

Lack of Evidence

In Texas, the prosecution must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" to convict someone. This is the highest standard of proof in law. If they fail to meet this standard due to insufficient evidence, it's possible for your child’s charges to be reduced or dismissed.

What is the Juvenile Criminal Process in Texas?

The process starts when law enforcement hears about a potential sex crime involving your child. They'll investigate, gathering evidence. If they find enough proof, they might take your child into custody. If your child is detained, they'll be taken to a juvenile detention center. Within two business days, there's a hearing to decide if they should stay in detention or be released until the next court date. The judge considers the crime's severity, your child's history, the likelihood of them running away, and potential danger to the community.

After investigating, if it seems your child committed the offense, they'll be formally charged. The charges are outlined in a document called a "petition." In serious cases, the state might try your child as an adult. The court will look at the crime's seriousness, your child's age, maturity, criminal background, and whether they can benefit from juvenile rehabilitation. If they're tried as an adult, the case moves to adult criminal court. If the case stays in juvenile court, it goes to an adjudication hearing, where a judge, not a jury, decides the case's outcome based on the evidence.

If the judge finds your child responsible, the next step is the disposition hearing. Here, the judge decides what happens next, like probation or placement in a facility.

Potential Punishments for Juvenile Sex Crimes in Austin

Unlike adults, the focus for juveniles is heavily on rehabilitation. Several factors will play an important role in determining your child's sentence, including the severity of the offense, your child's age, their previous record, and the specifics of their case.


For less severe offenses, common outcomes include probation, where your child would stay at home but need to follow certain rules and possibly attend counseling or other programs. The specifics and duration of probation vary depending on each individual case. If the offense is more serious, your child may be sent to a detention center, and the length of their stay will depend on various factors, including the nature of the offense. Additionally, the court may require your child to participate in treatment programs to help them understand the impact of their offense and facilitate behavioral change.

Sex Offender Registration

In severe sex crime cases, your child might have to be a registered sex offender. Registration could be for 10 years or for life. The court decides if registration is necessary, and your child can appeal this decision.

Aggravating Factors

In some cases, there is a possibility for juveniles to be tried as an adult. This usually applies to older juveniles involved in very serious crimes and means they face the same potential sentences as adults, including prison time. However, these cases are rare and considered a last resort by the state.

The relationship between the victim and the accused, especially if it involves a younger victim or a situation of trust, is also a significant factor in sentencing. It could lead to harsher sentencing. The court will also consider the impact of the crime on the victim and the community, influencing both the sentence type and its duration.

Texas Juvenile Justice Department

Texas's sentencing system allows for set sentences for certain serious offenses, with maximum sentences up to 40 years depending on the crime's severity. Under this system, juveniles initially serve their sentence in a Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) facility.

In TJJD, there are two main types of commitments: indeterminate and determinate. Indeterminate commitments allow juveniles to stay in TJJD custody until their 19th birthday, contingent on their eligibility for early release based on treatment progress. The minimum length of stay is determined by the offense's severity and the juvenile's risk to the community, factoring in past behavior. For determinate sentencing, juveniles have to be discharged from TJJD supervision by their 19th birthday or transferred to adult parole supervision. The list of offenses eligible for determinate sentences includes attempted sexual assault, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault.

Remember, every case is unique. The final decision rests with the judge, who has to balance the law, the specifics of the case, and the best interests of both your child and society. The state’s overarching goals in juvenile cases are rehabilitation, preventing future offenses, accountability, and ensuring public safety.

Rights of Juveniles in Criminal Cases

Your child has specific rights, like legal representation, the right to remain silent, making phone calls, a speedy trial, confronting witnesses, privacy of records, and the right to appeal. Also, your child's juvenile records can eventually be sealed, meaning they're not public. This can help your child move past their offense without the stigma of a criminal record.

Your role as a parent is important too. You'll provide support, participate in legal proceedings, make decisions, ensure compliance with court orders, and help your child emotionally. You might need to attend hearings, provide information, choose a lawyer, and help your child follow court conditions.

How a Juvenile Sex Crime Attorney Can Help Your Case

A criminal defense lawyer is important in guiding and supporting you and your child through the legal process. They protect your child's legal rights and ensure they understand the charges and potential consequences. The lawyer will be present during police questioning. They'll review all evidence, including police reports and witness statements, and develop a case strategy while considering your child's personal circumstances. The lawyer will represent your child in court, challenging unfair evidence, and negotiate with prosecutors, possibly to reduce charges or reach a plea agreement. The lawyer will explain the legal process, possible penalties, and alternative options like diversion programs too. Throughout the process, the lawyer keeps you and your child informed, all while aiming for the best possible outcome.

Contact an Austin Juvenile Sex Crime Lawyer Today

If your child is facing sex offense charges in Austin or elsewhere in Texas, speak with a lawyer right away. It's important for you to have clear information about your child's legal rights and options. The juvenile defense lawyers at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC are prepared to assist you and your child through this challenging period. We understand the difficulties you're dealing with and are prepared to fight for your child's future. To get the support you need and deserve, don't hesitate to reach out. For a consultation, call Cofer & Connelly, PLLC at (512) 991-0576 or contact us online.

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