Houston Child Sexual Abuse Attorney

Child molestation can encompass a range of actions, behavior, or conduct. Unfortunately, many individuals in Houston, Texas, are falsely accused of molesting a minor, which can negatively affect their entire future. False allegations can include fabricated reports of touching a child improperly, incorrect reports from a child, statements from a child who did not understand the nature of their allegations, or assumptions from nurses or psychologists.

If you have been falsely accused of child molestation, it’s crucial to reach out to an experienced Houston child sexual abuse lawyer who can help you immediately begin to create your best legal strategy. Even a false accusation of a child sexual abuse offense can result in severe penalties and consequences, such as:

  • Mandatory registration on the National Sex Offender Registry;
  • A criminal record;
  • Incarceration;
  • Hefty fines;
  • Difficulty applying for and/or obtaining certain jobs;
  • A refusal to be admitted into certain education programs;
  • Embarrassment or humiliation among friends and family; and/or
  • Denied ability to own/possess a firearm.

In a world where accusations of a sex crime in Houston, Texas, can shatter lives, the nightmare of being falsely accused of child molestation is a reality for many individuals. The mere mention of such allegations can irreparably damage one’s reputation, relationships, and livelihood. In Houston, Texas, the ramifications of these accusations can be particularly severe due to the strict legal landscape. But fear not, for there is hope and legal support from child sexual abuse attorneys in Houston, such as those at Scheiner Law, available to navigate these turbulent waters.

What Exactly is Child Molestation in Houston, Texas?

Child sexual abuse, often referred to as child molestation, is a despicable form of abuse that involves inappropriate sexual activity with a young person, whether through touch or non-touch. It’s crucial to recognize that a child can never consent to any form of sexual activity. When someone in Houston, Texas, commits this heinous act against a child, they are perpetrating a severe crime that can inflict long-term harm on the victim. Those who have endured childhood sexual abuse often report experiencing anxiety, anger issues, and depression as common signs of the trauma they’ve endured.

Child molestation can manifest in various ways, and it’s not always about physical contact. Here are some forms of child sexual abuse:

Exhibitionism

This involves seeking sexual gratification by showing private body parts to a child, a disturbing act that can leave lasting emotional scars.

Fondling

Touching a child inappropriately is a form of abuse that violates their boundaries and sense of safety. If you have been falsely accused of fondling a child contact a child sexual abuse lawyer in Houston, Texas, at our law firm today.

Intercourse

Engaging in any form of sexual stimulation with a child is a grave offense that can have devastating effects on the young victim.

Masturbation and Coercion

Forcing a child to engage in or witness sexual activities can lead to profound psychological trauma and long-lasting emotional scars.

Inappropriate Conversations

Engaging a child in explicit or adult-themed discussions is entirely inappropriate and can be a precursor to more egregious forms of abuse.

Child Pornography

Child pornography possession, or dissemination of sexual images or videos involving children (child pornography promotion) is a reprehensible crime that exploits the innocence of the young.

Sexual Acts with a Minor

Any form of sexual activity with a child in Houston, Texas, regardless of the specifics, is an act of abuse that can scar the victim for life.

Sex Trafficking

Children are tragically vulnerable to being coerced or forced into sex trafficking situations, where their innocence is exploited for profit.

Any Sexual Contact

Any sexual behavior involving a child, no matter how seemingly minor, constitutes a grave violation of their rights and well-being.

If you require legal defense for any of the crimes above contact a Houston child sexual abuse attorney at Scheiner Law Group today.

The Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse in Houston, Texas

Disturbingly, in most cases, the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are known to the child or the child’s family. Up to 93% of victims under the age of 18 are acquainted with their abuser, a fact that underscores the insidious nature of these crimes.

It’s also important to note that perpetrators of child sexual abuse can come from various relationships within the child’s life. They may be a sibling, friend, family member, teacher, coach, instructor, caregiver, or even a parent of another child. This reality makes it even more challenging to detect and prevent these crimes.

In Texas alone, it’s estimated that there were over 70,000 confirmed cases of child abuse in a single year. Shockingly, statistics reveal that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys experience sexual abuse before reaching the age of 18. These numbers, however, likely represent only a fraction of the true extent of child sexual abuse, as many cases go unreported due to fear, shame, or a lack of awareness.

Differentiating Types of Houston Child Molestation Offenses

Aggravated Child Molestation: Houston’s Legal Landscape

In Houston, Texas, there are various degrees of sexual assault, and charges can escalate to aggravated sexual assault under certain circumstances. These include situations where:

  • The victim is disabled or elderly.
  • The defendant did not act alone.
  • A deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime.
  • The defendant committed kidnapping, caused serious bodily injury, or instilled fear of death.
  • Drugs such as Ketamine or Rohypnol were used to facilitate the crime.
  • The victim was less than 14 years of age.

Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child in Houston is considered a First Degree Felony under Texas Penal Code § 22.021. This offense carries severe penalties, including 5-99 years of imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Additionally, it is a “3g” offense, meaning a person convicted must serve at least 50% of the sentence before being eligible for parole. A Houston child sexual abuse lawyer can help you understand what degree is your case.

Super Aggravated Child Molestation: Enhanced Penalties

Super aggravated sexual assault of a child is a term used in Houston to describe cases where there are enhanced penalties. This upgrade occurs when the victim is under the age of six or when a prior offender commits the same crime again.

This offense, also a first degree felony under Texas Penal Code § 22.021, carries a minimum sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment. The penalties also include a $10,000 fine and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Those convicted of this offense are ineligible for parole.

Sexual Assault of a Child in Houston, Texas: Understanding the Charge

Sexual assault of a child, often referred to as “child molestation” or “rape of a child,” is a serious offense in Texas. It occurs when a defendant engages in an illegal and sexually based activity with a minor without the minor’s consent.

In most instances, sexual assault of a child is a second degree felony under Texas Penal Code § 22.021. This offense carries potential penalties of 2-20 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. However, it can be elevated to a First Degree Felony if certain conditions are met, such as the age of the complainant or the relationship between the parties.

The Distinction Between “Indecency with a Child” and “Sexual Performance by a Child”

In Texas, the distinction between “indecency with a child” and “sexual performance by a child” hinges on the age of consent. The age of consent for sexual performance is 18 years old, while the age of consent for the statutory rape charge of indecency with a child is 17 years old.

It’s essential to understand the nuances of these offenses, as they carry distinct legal implications. If you are facing charges related to either crime, it’s crucial to seek competent legal defense immediately.

At Scheiner Law Group, our team of dedicated Houston child sexual abuse lawyers is committed to defending your rights and providing unwavering support in your time of need. We understand the complexities of these cases and will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation.

Child Molestation Laws in Houston, Texas

In Houston, Texas, child molestation is a serious criminal offense governed by Texas Penal Code § 22.011. This statute outlines the various actions that constitute sexual assault, particularly concerning minors. According to the law:

Sexual assault occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly engages in the following acts without consent:

  • Causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organs of another person by any means.
  • Causes penetration of the mouth of another person by the actor’s sexual organ.
  • Causes the sexual organ of another person to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person.

Additionally, if a person commits any of these acts on a child, regardless of whether they know the child’s age, it is also considered sexual assault.

Understanding Consent and Aggravating Factors

The law clarifies that a sexual assault is without the other person’s consent if various conditions are met. These include situations where the actor uses physical force, violence, coercion, or exploits the victim’s unconsciousness, physical inability to resist, or mental incapacity.

Moreover, certain aggravating factors can escalate the severity of the offense. These include instances where the actor is a public servant, mental health services provider, health care services provider, clergyman, or an employee of a facility where the victim resides or has exploited the victim’s emotional dependency.

Legal Definitions and Penalties

  • Child: Defined as a person younger than 17 years of age.
  • Spouse: Refers to a person who is legally married to another.
  • Health Care Services Provider: Includes licensed professionals such as physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, physician assistants, and nurses.
  • Mental Health Services Provider: Encompasses individuals who provide mental health services, including social workers, counselors, therapists, psychologists, and mental health officers.

Penalties for Child Molestation in Houston, Texas

Under Texas Penal Code § 22.011, child molestation is considered a felony offense. The severity of the charge depends on various factors, including the age of the victim and the circumstances of the assault:

  • Second-Degree Felony: The default charge for sexual assault of a child, carrying penalties of 2-20 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

  • First-Degree Felony: Elevated to this charge if certain conditions are met, such as the victim being a person whom the actor was prohibited from marrying or engaging in sexual intercourse with.

  • State Jail Felony: If the offense involves non-consensual medical care for a child without contact between the child’s body and the actor or a third party.

A child molestation attorney in Houston can guide you in understanding what type of felony can you be sued for, according to your specific situation.

What Are Texas’ Consent Laws in Child Molestation Cases in Houston?

In Texas, the age of consent for most sexual activities is 17 years old. However, nuances exist depending on the nature of the activity. Under the Indecency with a Child law, as outlined in Section §21.11, any form of sexual contact between an adult and a child under 17 constitutes an offense.

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Texas

To mitigate the severity of statutory rape penalties, Texas employs “Romeo and Juliet” laws. These statutes protect young individuals engaging in consensual sexual activities with partners close in age. In Houston, individuals under 17 years old are protected from criminal prosecution if they engage in consensual sex with someone no more than three years older or younger than themselves.

Circumstances Where Consent Is Not Valid

Houston child molestation attorney: Texas law defines several scenarios where an individual cannot legally consent to sexual activity:

  • Forced Consent: If someone is coerced into sexual activity through physical force or threats.
  • Threats of Force: It is illegal to use threats of harm to obtain consent.
  • Unconsciousness: Individuals unable to comprehend or be aware of the situation.
  • Mental Incapacity: Those lacking the capacity to understand due to mental illness or disability.
  • Mental Health Professionals: Patients receiving mental health care cannot consent to sexual activity with their providers.
  • Residential Facility Employees: Residents of treatment facilities cannot consent to sexual activities with employees.
  • Teachers: Educators cannot obtain valid consent from enrolled students.
  • Public Servants: Officials like police officers or judges cannot legally obtain consent from those under their authority.

Navigating the complexities of child molestation laws in Houston, Texas, requires expert legal guidance. If you or a loved one is facing allegations, it’s essential to seek the counsel of a qualified Houston child sexual abuse lawyer.

What is “Institutional Liability” for Child Sexual Abuse in Houston, Texas?

Institutions, such as churches, daycare centers, and schools, bear a significant responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of children under their care. This responsibility extends to hiring practices and the supervision of employees. When an institution fails to properly vet its employees or ignores warning signs of potential abuse, it may be held liable for any harm caused by an employee’s actions.

In Houston, Texas, institutional liability for child sexual abuse refers to the legal accountability of an organization for the actions of its employees. According to Texas law, institutions are obligated to hire individuals without a history of violence or sexual assault. This includes conducting thorough background checks, as well as psychological and psychiatric evaluations of potential employees.

If an institution knew or reasonably should have known that an employee posed a risk of sexually abusing a child, and they failed to take appropriate action, they may be held legally responsible for any resulting abuse. This means that victims of child sexual abuse may have the right to pursue civil claims against the institution for damages.

In cases of institutional liability, victims and their families may seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to the abuse
  • Costs of therapy and counseling
  • Pain and suffering endured by the victim
  • Emotional distress and trauma caused by the abuse

It’s important to note that institutions found liable for child sexual abuse may also face significant financial penalties and reputational damage. Seeking justice through legal action can not only hold responsible parties accountable but also help prevent future instances of abuse within the institution.

What Are Some Institutions and Situations Where Child Sex Abuse Can Occur?

Child sexual abuse in Houston, Texas, is a pervasive issue that can happen in various institutions and settings, often having devastating effects on young lives. Despite efforts to prevent such atrocities, perpetrators often exploit positions of trust and authority. Here are some institutions and scenarios where child sex abuse can occur:

Child Care Centers

Childcare centers, including daycares and preschools, can become breeding grounds for abuse. More than 55,000 children are sexually abused each year in these settings, with over 90% of victims knowing their abuser. Predators may exploit situations like comforting a child or changing a diaper to commit abuse, often using manipulative tactics to keep victims silent.

Educational Institutions

Schools, colleges, and universities are common sites for abuse and harassment. Studies show that one in five women and one in 16 men experience assault in college, often perpetrated by someone known to the victim, such as a fellow student or staff member. Victims, particularly in college settings, may not report due to fear and confusion about what constitutes assault.

Workplaces

Sexual harassment in the workplace affects many, with estimates ranging from 25% to 85% of women experiencing harassment. Inappropriate comments, advances, or assaults during work events are sadly common occurrences. Fear of retaliation often prevents victims from reporting, perpetuating a culture of silence.

Religious Institutions

Religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, have faced numerous allegations of sexual abuse. The Catholic Church alone reported over 4,200 allegations against clergy members.

Sports Organizations

High-profile scandals, such as the USA Gymnastics case, have shed light on abuse in sports. Athletes, especially minors, are vulnerable due to close coach-athlete relationships and intense training environments. Coaches or senior athletes may exploit their positions, leading to abuse.

Medical Centers

Hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health clinics, places of healing, can become settings of abuse. Patients are vulnerable to abuse by caregivers, with incidents ranging from inappropriate touching to assault. Lack of thorough background checks and oversight contribute to this risk.

Prisons and Correctional Facilities

Incarcerated individuals, particularly young, mentally ill, or LGBTQ+ inmates, face a heightened risk of abuse. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) staff have been accused of molesting female inmates, while a study found that 21% of assaults in state prisons were committed by staff.

Military Bases

The military’s hierarchical structure can create situations where higher-ranking service members exploit authority over lower-ranking individuals. Reported cases of sexual assault within the military have risen, yet prosecutions have declined, leaving survivors reluctant to seek legal action.

Residential Care Facilities

Nursing homes and group homes for the elderly, children or disabled individuals can harbor abuse by staff or caretakers. Complaints of sexual abuse in nursing homes are alarmingly high, with vulnerable residents, such as those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, being frequent targets.

Child sexual abuse can occur anywhere, from the colorful playground to the solemn halls of a religious institution. A child sexual abuse lawyer in Houston can help you understand these risks and taking proactive steps to prevent abuse is crucial for protecting our children and vulnerable populations.

Child Sex Molestation Lawyer in Houston, Texas

At Scheiner Law, we are dedicated to defending your rights and protecting your innocence if you are facing false allegations of child sex abuse in Houston, Texas. Our team of experienced and compassionate Houston child sexual abuse lawyers understands the gravity of these accusations and the impact they can have on your life.

We are committed to providing you with strong legal representation, fighting tirelessly to ensure that your side of the story is heard and that your rights are safeguarded throughout the legal process. You do not have to face these challenging circumstances alone. Contact Scheiner Law today, and let us stand by your side, advocating fiercely for justice and the protection of your rights.