Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child in Texas

//Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child in Texas
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child in Texas2018-08-30T12:43:17+00:00

Outside of capital murder, the continuous sexual abuse of a child is the most serious crime a person can be charged with in Texas. This can be truly life-altering for you and your family. If you or someone you love has been accused of this serious offense, it’s normal to be afraid, confused, and anxious. But you don’t have to face this alone. The Law Office of Paul Schiffer can help you navigate these rough waters so that you can make it to the other side as smoothly as possible.

What is Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child?

According to Section 21.02 of the Texas Penal Code, continuous sexual abuse of a child occurs when a person over the age of 17 commits two or more acts of sexual abuse against a minor under the age of 14 (or multiple minors) during a period that is 30 or more days in duration. Sexual abuse, as per the penal code, is defined as:

  • aggravated kidnapping with the intent to abuse or violate the victim sexually;
  • burglary with the intent to commit a sexual offense;
  • compelling child prostitution;
  • indecency with a child (if committed in a manner besides touching or touching through clothing of the breast of a minor);
  • sexual assault (engaging in sexual contact without consent) or aggravated sexual assault;
  • sexual performance by a child; or
  • sex trafficking of person(s).

If any of these offenses were committed against a victim aged 14 or younger two or more times during a period of time that is 30 or more days in duration, the accused can be charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child. The statute also provides that the offenses may be against the same victim, or different victims, in each instance.

What is Jessica’s Law?

Jessica’s Law is often cited in continuous sexual abuse of a child cases. Named in honor of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, a Florida girl who was raped and then murdered by a convicted sex offender, Jessica’s Law was enacted as a way to try to prevent sex offenders from committing further offenses through the use of severe penalties and far-reaching negative ramifications.

Proving Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child

To obtain a conviction, a prosecutor must always prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each element of a crime has been committed, through the presentation of clear evidence and witness testimonies. In the case of continuous sexual abuse of a child, the prosecution must prove that there were at least two sexual crimes committed during a period of time that is 30 or more days in duration against a victim (or victims) under the age of 14. The prosecution must also prove that the accused was 17 years old or older during the commission of the offenses.   

An experienced defense attorney like Paul Schiffer, along with his legal team, knows that these cases may be difficult for the prosecution. He knows your rights, and knows what to do to protect you throughout a trial.

Possible Penalties

Continuous sexual abuse of a child is a first-degree felony. If you’re convicted of it, you face steep penalties including a prison sentence of at least 25 years and up 99 years. However, if you have prior sex offense convictions on your record (in addition to the two or more offenses in this charge) you’ll automatically receive a life sentence in prison. You’ll also be fined as much as $10,000, including damages that may be awarded to the victim or the victim’s family in a separate civil case.

A distinction between continuous sexual abuse of a child and other sex crimes is that there is no chance for early release if you’re convicted. There is also no chance for probation and no opportunity for deferred adjudication.     

Further Ramifications

Being found guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a child results not only in a lengthy prison sentence and thousands of dollars in fines, you’ll also face additional difficulties if, and when, you’re released. These ramifications can change your life and affect your personal relationships. Some of these consequences are:

  • a permanent criminal record which will show up in background checks;
  • restrictions on where you can live and work once you are released;
  • difficulty finding or keeping a job;
  • the inability to volunteer with certain organizations, including churches;
  • the inability to obtain or the revocation of certain professional licenses;
  • the inability to possess firearms;
  • a negative change in immigration status, or the denial of citizenship;
  • difficulty running for public office;
  • loss of custody or visitation rights of biological children;
  • the inability to foster or adopt a child;
  • public stigma in your local community;
  • strained personal relationships with friends and family;
  • difficulty gaining admission to college or similar schools;
  • the denial of financial aid for school; and
  • the denial of government aid or difficulties applying for government aid.

Sex Offender Registration

If you are released from prison, you will have to register as a sex offender for life. Your name and information will appear on a public database where people can see your name, address, date of birth, race, and gender. They’ll also be able to find details of your conviction, how old the victim was, what sentence you served, all aliases used, and your employment information. It will include a recent photograph and your complete set of fingerprints. If you fail to register properly, you can be charged with another felony.

Possible Defenses

While the state will aggressively prosecute anyone accused of this serious offense, a qualified defense team will fight to protect your rights and work to get you the best possible result. Some defenses are not available. In the case of continuous sexual abuse of a child, it is not a defense that the accused was unaware of the age of the victim or victims. Consent is not available as a defense either, since a child is not able to legally give his or her consent to a sexual act.  

An experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney like Paul Schiffer can craft a solid defense for you, and show that you don’t meet the criteria of the charge as it’s defined in the Texas Penal Code. There is also a chance that you were wrongfully accused of the crime through mistaken identity. It’s often the case that the events in question never occurred, and that you’ve been falsely accused altogether.

Before the trial, your defense attorney will analyze the evidence against you, and take steps to preserve evidence of your innocence. That is why you need to hire a qualified defense attorney immediately if you’ve been accused of continuous sexual abuse of a child. During a trial, it’s your defense attorney’s job to cross-examine witnesses, discredit the evidence brought against you, and attack the prosecution’s case, with the intent to cast enough doubt in the jury’s mind that they will be unable to reach a guilty verdict.

Why you Need a Defense Attorney

You can’t fight the serious charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child alone. If you or someone you love is being accused of this crime, call the Law Office of Paul Schiffer immediately. Our team has over 40 years of experience, and has defended against accusations just like this before. We know what it takes to protect your rights.

It is also important that you have a defense attorney who will treat you with respect despite the charges against you. At the Law Office of Paul Schiffer, you will be welcomed openly and treated with dignity from the moment you contact us. We know that these are difficult times, and we will handle your case sensitively to make sure that you get through the process with the best possible result. Don’t wait any longer. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can begin to build your defense. Contact our office by phone, email, through our website, or stop by our office in person to discuss your case today.

How has Paul Schiffer Successfully Defended Cases of this Kind?

That’s a great question, but you won’t find the answer here. While there is nothing inherently secret about a great defense, some attorneys are simply better prepared, more creative, and more experienced than others. It’s that combination that makes Paul Schiffer successful in defending these cases. A professional sports team, or an army preparing for battle, doesn’t disclose its strategy to the opposition. It is only through a confidential, in-person, meeting with Paul Schiffer, where your information is protected by the attorney-client privilege, that he will discuss potential strategies that are tailored to your circumstances. Call today to set up a meeting with Paul in his office. Be sure to bring any paperwork or other information you have about your case or an investigation.   

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Serious problems require serious lawyers.

Call Houston Sex Crimes attorney Paul Schiffer today at (713)-521-0059 to start strategically building your defense.