Accusations of child abuse can drastically affect your personal and professional life. Not only could you face statutory penalties, but the negative social stigma of your peers. Child abuse is a serious charge under Texas law.
In some cases, allegations from of child abuse are from a simple misunderstanding. Those convicted of child abuse may have to pay expensive fines and face jail or prison time No matter the circumstances it is highly advised that you seek an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Texas Child Abuse Attorney
Child abuse allegations can change your life. You may lose the ability to parent or face prison time. Stay silent with law enforcement and make the steps to your defense today. Call a domestic violence attorney at The Benken Law Firm for trusted legal representation.
Attorney Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm is knowledgeable in child abuse cases. He wants to help you get your life back on track. Attorney Benken has the resources, knowledge, and techniques that may be able to help you reduce or dismiss your charges. Be proactive about your defense. Get in contact with the attorneys at The Benken Law Firm.
The Benken Law Firm practices throughout all parts of Harris County area such as Houston and surrounding communities including Westchase, Brays Oaks, Alief, Houston Heights, and Greenspoint. Gain a legal partner with Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm. Call us now at (713) 223 - 4051.
Overview for Child Abuse in Texas
- Definitions for Child Abuse
- Mental States for Child Abuse
- Penalties for Child Abuse
- Additional Resources
Definitions for Child Abuse Charges in Houston, Texas
The term child abuse incorporates a number of situations. Not every case of child abuse is an intentional act of harm. In some cases, doing nothing in certain situations can be considered child abuse.
Texas Penal Code § 22.04 states a person commits the act of child abuse if he or she knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, caused any of the following to a child:
- Bodily injury;
- Serious bodily injury; or
- Serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury.
A person can be charged with child abuse without directly harming the child. If a child retains bodily injury or serious bodily injury by omission, the alleged offender may still be charged with child abuse. Behavior that is considered abuse by omission if the alleged offender does any of the following:
- Has assumed care, custody, or control of the child; or
- Has a legal or statutory duty to act.
This means that the alleged offender was in charge of the child’s safety. If the alleged offender has control over the child, he or she is in charge of their shelter, health, and medical care. Caretakers or parents have a certain standard of care they must uphold.
If an event happens where the child is in danger, the caretaker must act. If the caretaker does not act and the child retains a serious injury, the alleged offender may be charged with child abuse. This would mean the alleged offender abused the child by omission. For example, if a child were in a boiling hot car a reasonable adult would act to help remove the child from the car. Not taking the child out of the hot car would be considered abuse by omission.
Mental States for Child Abuse Penalties under Texas Law
The legal consequences for child abuse are dependent on the mental state of the alleged offender during the commission of the offense. The degree of intentional harm is a huge factor in deciding the level of offense.
Texas Penal Code § 6.03 defines the following mental states that determine the penalties for a child abuse offense:
- Criminal Negligence – If the alleged offender is aware of the substantial and unjustifiable risk of their actions, but still proceeds despite knowing the high possibility of harm occurring.
- Knowingly – If the alleged offender is aware of their conduct and is reasonably certain on what the result will be.
- Recklessly – If the alleged offender commits the act and is aware of the possible result from the conduct, but still consciously disregards the possibility bodily injury may occur.
- Intentionally – If the alleged offender commits some type of conduct and it is in their desire or conscious objective to engage in conduct or to cause the result.
Penalties for child abuse are also reliant on the injury of the child. According to Texas law, an injury can be either a bodily injury, serious bodily injury, or mental deficiency, impairment or injury.
The following are some definitions for injuries under Texas law:
- Bodily Injury – Any physical pain, illness, or any impairment of the physical condition.
- Serious Bodily Injury – Any bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, impairment, permanent disfigurement, or loss of a body member or organ.
Texas Penalties for Child Abuse in Harris County
The penalties for child abuse are reliant on the mental state of the alleged offender during the offense., and the injury of the child. An alleged offender will face a state jail felony, which is punishable by up to 24 months in jail, and a possible fine of $10,000, if he or she does any of the following:
- Committed child abuse by criminal negligence;
- Committed child abuse by acting recklessly;
- Caused bodily injury or serious bodily injury by omission.
If the alleged offender intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a child, he or she will face a felony of the third degree. The maximum penalty for a third-degree felony includes up to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000.
Those who cause serious bodily injury or mental injury to a child due to reckless behavior will face a second-degree felony. The maximum penalties for a second-degree felony include up to 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Any person, who intentionally or knowingly causes serious bodily injury or mental injury to a child, will face a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony has the maximum penalties of 99 years or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Unit – Visit the official website for the Houston Police Department. Find more information surrounding their Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Unit and gain access to resources, suggested reading, safety plans, and other information detailing family violence.
Report Child Abuse – Visit the official website for the Children’s Assessment Center (CAC), is an organization that is dedicated to preventing, assessing, investigating and treating the problem of child abuse in the United States. The CAC gives medical and clinical assessments of children, joint training for professionals and volunteers, and creates quality plans for families to learn how to heal.
CDC: Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention – Access the official website for the CDC which offers information regarding child abuse and neglect prevention.
Houston Child Abuse Attorney | Harris County, TX
If you or someone you know has been charged with child abuse, it is important that you seek trusted legal representation today. Do not hesitate when it comes to your rights. Call Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm today.
The Benken Law Firm will aggressively fight for your rights in the courtroom. Attorney Benken at The Benken Law Firm is methodical and creative in implementing defenses. He has years of experience in handling child abuse cases in Texas criminal courts. Find an attorney who can help you. Call Brian Benken at (713) 223 - 4051 today.
Attorney Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm practice law throughout every area in greater Houston such as, Westbury, Meyerland, Brays Oaks, and Sharpstown. Have some peace of mind today. Call Brian Benken at (713) 223 - 4051 for your free consultation.