Texas has taken great care to protect the most vulnerable members of its society. As a result, the Texas Legislature passed a statute providing for enhanced penalties and specialized guidelines for prosecuting allegations of child abuse. These laws make any conviction for child abuse a felony under Texas law. All of these convictions carry a required jail sentence and may jeopardize a person’s custody over their children. Midland child abuse lawyers understand the high stakes in these cases. They fight to protect not only an individuals’ freedoms, but also their rights to raise their children. Contact a professional attorney to learn more.
Child Abuse Under Texas Law
It is illegal under Texas law for any person to violently strike another. While this would be considered simple assault in most situations, when the alleged victim is a child under the age of 15, a new law is applied. Texas Penal Code 22.04 states that an injury to a child is a crime when a person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or through criminal negligence, causes any bodily harm or serious mental injury. A violation may also occur in situations where an omission, or lack of care, causes these conditions.
The penalties for a violation of this law vary depending on the seriousness of the injury. A felony of the first-degree applies when the defendant acted in an intentional or knowing way and the abuse caused a serious physical or mental injury. If the conduct is alleged to be reckless, the penalty is reduced to a second-degree felony. If the conduct that is intentional or knowing resulted in any bodily injury that is not considered serious, the crime is a third-degree felony. In situations where the defendant acted with criminal negligence, the crime is considered a state jail felony. A Midland child abuse attorney can provide more information on laws.
What the Penalty Levels Mean
Child abuse is considered under any of the four levels of felonies. These are punished as followed under Texas Penal Code 12.01:
- First-Degree Felony: A minimum prison term of five years with a maximum of 99 years. In addition, a fine may be imposed of up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony: These carry a minimum prison term of two years with a maximum of 20. A fine of up to $10,000 may be added
- Third-Degree Felony: These also have a minimum jail term of two years, but the maximum term is decreased to 10 years. The possible fine of $10,000 remains
- State Jail Felonies: These lowest level felonies have a maximum jail term of two years but a minimum term of 180 days. The same fine of up to $10,000 is in place
Any conviction under this statute will also remain on a person’s criminal record. This will certainly jeopardize a person’s custody over their children and in many instances, a mere accusation of child abuse will trigger a protective order hearing that may require a defendant to move out of their home. For all of these reasons, it is imperative to obtain a powerful and thorough defense.
How a Midland Child Abuse Attorney Can Help
Texas’s child abuse laws carry heavy punishments for conviction. However, the State must be able to prove that the injuries occurred as the result of intentional abuse or at least criminal neglect. Every case is unique and a Midland child abuse attorneys work to evaluate and analyze each case for the most effective defense strategy. Contact today to protect your freedoms.