Were you falsely accused of child neglect or abuse. Due to reporting requirements in Texas, law enforcement officers will typically investigate any reports of discipline or physical abuse, including hitting, spanking, kicking, beating, slapping, broken bones or any bruises or marks on the child. Although marks and bruises alone are not sufficient evidence for a child abuse conviction, allegations of child abuse or child neglect can result in serious repercussions if the alleged offender is convicted, including jail time, fines, reputation damage or humiliation, loss of parental rights and/or a criminal record.
A criminal conviction doesn’t have to result from charges or accusations of child abuse or neglect. An experienced family crimes defense lawyer can help you fight the allegations and avoid serious penalties. The Family Crimes Attorneys at Dunham & Jones are available right now to provide you with the aggressive criminal defense team you need. Call now for legal assistance contesting a child abuse or child neglect offense.
What is Considered Child Abuse or Neglect in Texas?
Several types of conduct can be constituted as forms of child abuse or neglect in Texas. These include, but are not limited to:
- Emotional or psychological abuse;
- Placing a child in an emotionally, psychologically or physically abusive situation;
- Failing to remove a child from an emotionally, psychologically or physically abusive situation;
- Failing to seek medical care for a child that results in a substantial risk of death, disfigurement or bodily injury;
- Failing to provide a child with food, clothing or shelter necessary to sustain the child’s life;
- Physical injury or threat of substantial harm to the child;
- Failing to make a reasonable effort to prevent the acts of another person resulting in physical injury;
- Sexual conduct harmful to a child’s emotional, mental or physical welfare;
- Failing to make a reasonable effort to prevent harmful sexual conduct to a child;
- Compelling or encouraging a child to engage in sexual conduct or pornography;
- Administering a controlled substance to a child that leads to physical or mental injuries;
- Allowing a child to use a controlled substance; and/or
- Allowing a child to engage in a sexual performance.
Factors that may lead to an Arrest for Child Abuse in Texas
In Texas, child abuse and/or neglect charges may be imposed if the alleged perpetrator intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence cause a child:
- Serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury,
- Serious bodily injury, or
- Bodily injury.
Child abuse charges may also be filed if alleged perpetrator fails to act on behalf of or care for a child the alleged offender had a legal or statutory duty to act on behalf of or if they have assumed care for the child, such as a parent or a child day care employee.
Penalties for Child Abuse Crimes in Texas
Possible penalties and punishments for child abuse offenses can range in severity. The degree of conviction and punishment can vary depending on the alleged offender’s mental state and the degree of injury caused to the child as a result of the abuse or neglect.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved criminal negligence by the alleged offender can be convicted of a state jail felony. A state jail felony is punishable by 180 days to two years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved reckless actions by the alleged offender that resulted in bodily injury can be convicted of state jail felony. A state jail felony is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and/or a jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved intentional or knowing actions by the alleged offender that resulted in bodily injury can be convicted of a felony of the third degree. A felony of the third degree is punishable by two to ten years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved reckless actions by the alleged offender that resulted in serious bodily injury or serious mental injury can be convicted of a felony of the second degree. A felony of the second degree is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- An individual charged with a child abuse offense that involved intentional or knowing actions by the alleged offender that resulted in serious mental injury or serious bodily injury can be convicted of a felony of the first degree. A felony of the first degree is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years and/or a fine not more than $10,000.
Requirements for Reporting Child Abuse in Texas
According to Section 261.101 of the Texas Family Code, anyone who has reason to believe a child’s mental or physical health has been abused or neglected is required to make a report with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Additionally, anyone who is considered a child care professional is required to make the report within a specified period of time. A professional in Texas is anyone who is licensed or certified by the state or is an employee of a facility licensed or certified by the state and has direct contact with children in the normal course of their job. Child care professionals can include:
- Reproductive service clinic or facility employees,
- Juvenile probation officers,
- Juvenile detention or correctional officers, and/or
- Daycare employees.
If anyone fails to make a report of child abuse or neglect as provided by Texas law, they can be charged with a misdemeanor or state jail felony offense.
Contact Dunham & Jones for a Free Case Evaluation
If you were accused of committing child abuse or neglect in Texas contact Dunham & Jones today. As a knowledgeable family crimes attorneys, Dunham & Jones fights to help you attain the most favorable outcome for your child abuse/neglect case. Call now for a free consultation to find out how we can help you.