Indecency with a Child is a serious crime that can result in equally serious penalties. In addition to prison, fines, and sex offender registration, you might face the possibility of balosing your job or home if you are convicted. The consequences of a sex crime conviction are likely to follow you for a lifetime. This fact is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Texas sex crime defense lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can begin defending your constitutional rights as soon as he or she becomes involved in your case. In addition, a lawyer can also develop a comprehensive strategy that will allow for the best possible resolution to the charges against you.
Penalties for Indecency with a Child
Section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code designates Indecency With a Child as a felony. It is a Class 2 felony if the defendant “engages in sexual contact with the child or causes the child to engage in sexual contact”. Class 2 felonies are punishable by a prison term of two to twenty years and a fine of $10,000. Indecency with a Child is a Class 3 felony if the defendant exposes the anus or any part of his or her genitals, knowing the child is present; or causes the child to expose the child’s anus or any part of the child’s genitals. Class 3 felonies are punishable by a prison term of two to ten years and a fine of $10,000.
In addition to prison and fines, you might also be subject to registration as a sex offender. Different levels of sex offender registration have different requirements of community notice, supervision, computer use, and other terms. Regardless of the level of registration, being designated as a sex offender can have a negative impact on every aspect of your life, and you should consult with your defense lawyer about the possibility of sex offender registration.
Defenses for Indecency with a Child
There are often many ways for an attorney to defend a client from allegations of a sex crime. Some of these are created by statute, while others involve raising constitutionally guaranteed rights. Still others are based upon a simple lack of persuasive evidence against the defendant. The defenses available in your case will depend on the specifics of your case, and a lawyer will be able to determine which, if any, to raise.
Section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code establishes the crime of Indecency with a Child. This section also creates two important defenses that can prevent a conviction for this offense. The first defense is that you were legally married to the child at the time of the alleged crime. The second defense applies if you meet all of the following criteria at the time of the alleged offense:
- You were not more than three years older than the victim and of the opposite sex
- You did not use duress, force, or a threat against the victim at the time of the offense; and
- At the time of the offense you were not required to register for life as a sex offender or did not have a prior conviction (or juvenile adjudication) for Indecency with a Child.
The Police Lacked a Warrant or Valid Exception
The Fourth Amendment of the constitution protects all of us from unreasonable searches or seizures. The Constitution requires law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant – which can only be issued by a judge on a showing of probable cause – before searching a vehicle or residence, or seizing evidence to be used against a person. That said, there are many exceptions to the warrant requirement, and many searches conducted without a warrant are determined to be valid.
Police must have a warrant or a clear exception to the warrant requirement before they can conduct a search or seize evidence. If not, the evidence that is collected can be excluded from trial. Some prosecutors choose to go to trial anyway and take their chances on presenting the jury with their weakened case. Other prosecutors will dismiss the case if their remaining evidence is not strong enough to support a conviction. A court can even dismiss a case over a prosecutor’s objection if there is no longer sufficient evidence to hold the defendant.
The Witness is Unreliable
Witness reliability is a major factor in sex crime cases involving child victims. Children are not always old enough or mature enough to understand the difference between truth and lies, and some children are not able to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Because of this, a prosecutor must usually call some sort of child development expert witness to testify at trial. This expert will give testimony about how one can determine whether a child is telling the truth. The defense then has an opportunity to cross-examine the expert and present the jury with information that the child might not understand the matters about which he or she is testifying. In some cases, the cross-examination of an expert witness can create enough doubt regarding the alleged victim’s reliability to secure an acquittal.
Call Us Today to Speak with a San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyer
Allegations of any sexual misconduct can follow a person for the rest of his or her life. If you have been accused of indecency with a child, your reputation is in even greater danger. Your ability to work and live where you like could very well be on the line. Attorney Patrick L. Hancock has helped many clients protect their constitutional rights throughout the criminal process. Call (210) 223-8844 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with an experienced Texas defense attorney. Don’t wait – the sooner you have an attorney fighting on your side, the better protected your legal rights will be.