Sometimes referred to as “fondling,” indecency with a child by contact is a serious charge with far-reaching consequences. Not only are you facing stiff penalties if found guilty, you’ll also deal with the stigma that comes with the accusation alone.
If you’re being accused of this crime, you need a skilled and experienced attorney who knows how to handle your case in a serious, but sensitive, manner. The Law Office of Paul Schiffer has decades of experience defending people in your situation and can help you make your way through this difficult time. Our talented team will work day and night to try to reach a favorable outcome that will restore your good reputation and maintain your freedom.
What is Indecency with a Child by Contact in Texas?
In Texas, indecency with a child falls into two different offenses. One is indecency with a child by exposure and the other is indecency with a child by contact. This discussion deals with indecency with a child by contact.
Section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code defines indecency with a child by contact as sexual contact with a child under the age of 17, with the contact being made for the purpose of arousing sexual desire or for sexual gratification. This can include touching the child’s genitals, anus, or breasts and also includes the adult touching the child in any way with the adult’s genitals, anus, or breasts. All of this can occur through clothing or without clothing. In short, a crime is committed when an adult engages in sexual contact with a child under the age of 17 or forces the child into sexual contact.
Indecency with a Child by Exposure
While this crime and indecency with a child by contact are related offenses, they have different elements. Here, there is no physical contact between the alleged victim and the accused. Instead, the crime is committed when an adult knowingly exposes his or her genitals or anus in the presence of a child with the intent to arouse sexual desire or for sexual gratification. It also includes making a child under the age of 17 expose his or her genitals or anus with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify sexual desires.
Proving Indecency with a Child by Contact
An accusation is simply that, but to achieve a conviction, the prosecution must prove your guilt by proving that all of the necessary elements of the crime have occurred. Assuming that the child’s age has already been determined, both a sexual contact and the intent of the accused to arouse or sexually gratify must be proven by the prosecution to obtain a conviction.
For example, a parent touching his child’s genitals during bath time or to check a possible injury could be misconstrued as sexual contact, but if there is no intent to arouse or sexually gratify, the crime of indecency with a child by contact has not occurred. Similarly, if your child accidentally sees you naked, no crime has been committed, because the necessary element of intent is not present.
It’s also important to realize that false accusations do happen, and, unfortunately, they happen often. At the Law Office of Paul Schiffer, we understand that not all accusations are true. It’s the prosecution’s job to prove that the crime actually occurred, and that this isn’t a baseless accusation. For example, accusations such as these often occur as a result of coercion by a parent engaged in a custody battle or divorce against the other parent, to gain leverage in a legal fight or simply to make the accused parent suffer.
Our team is fully prepared to analyze your case and see if the elements to prove guilt are all present in your circumstances, or whether or not the claim against you has any factual basis. It’s often critical in these cases that the accused engages us to take investigative steps immediately upon charges being brought or threatened, so that we can preserve evidence and witnesses’ recollections before they are destroyed or tampered with.
Indecency with a child by contact is a second-degree felony in Texas. This is a serious offense that carries strict penalties. If you’re found guilty of this crime, you face up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
There are factors that can mitigate or increase the punishment. A judge may look at whether or not this is your first offense, if the crime is considered violent in nature, or if you’re considered to be a public danger. Your sentence can be decreased or increased based on these, and other, mitigating or aggravating factors.
If you are charged, or threatened to be charged, with indecency with a child by contact, you need a dedicated defense team on your side as soon as you’re accused of this offense.
If you are found guilty, the court or the jury will decide the punishment it sees fit for the crime you have been convicted of. But your trouble doesn’t end there. A guilty verdict can affect your life in ways besides your loss of freedom and the imposition of a fine.
For instance, employers tend to not hire people with a criminal record, especially a record that includes a crime against a child. There are also certain industries or sectors that are prohibited from hiring convicted felons. Similarly, gaining admission to college or any secondary school can be difficult, as schools can choose to turn you away if you have a criminal history. If you are admitted, you might find it difficult to get financial aid or other assistance.
In Texas, you can also lose custody of your children by being found guilty of indecency with a child by contact. Similarly, you will be unable to adopt or foster a child. Working with children or volunteering around children will also be prohibited if you’re found guilty of a crime against a child.
If you’re an immigrant in the US, any criminal conviction—especially a serious one like this—can put your immigration status in jeopardy. If you’re in the process of getting your citizenship or a green card, you’re at risk of having these legal necessities denied.
Other possible ramifications are:
- revocation of professional licenses;
- denial of certain permits and licenses;
- inability to possess a firearm;
- denial of government assistance including SNAP, TANF, and subsidized housing;
- difficulties renting property;
- losing the right to serve on a jury;
- losing your right to vote in elections; and
- difficulties running for or holding public office.
Sex Offender Registration
If you’re convicted of indecency with a child by contact, you will be required to register as a sex offender for life. This lifetime registration will likely negatively impact your life. The stigma that comes from being a registered sex offender can alienate you from mainstream society, since most people tend to be unforgiving toward registered sex offenders. It will also restrict where you can live and work once you are out of prison.
Defenses to a Charge of Indecency with a Child by Contact
In Texas, there are two common defenses for people accused of this crime. The first is consent and the second is a legal marriage.
In the first defense, if you’re fewer than three years older than the alleged victim, of the opposite sex, not registered as a sex offender, and didn’t use force or threats during the sexual contact, there is a possibility that a competent defense team can use a consenting age defense in your case. The second possible defense can be used if you are legally married to the child in question.
An experienced defense attorney like Paul Schiffer will likely be able to find other defenses that can fit your individual circumstances. For example, he might be able to prove that there was not the intent to sexually arouse or for sexual gratification during the alleged contact.
A qualified defense attorney may be able to prove that the allegations against you are completely false if there is no DNA evidence or other solid proof that the act was committed at all.
Why You Need a Defense Attorney
Indecency with a child by contact is a serious offense with incredibly severe, long term consequences. If you’re accused of this crime, it’s imperative that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can start forming a strong defense. You’ll need a lawyer who not only knows how to analyze your case, recognize and capitalize on its weaknesses, and craft a strong defense strategy, but one who will help you deal with the ramifications surrounding the accusations being made against you.
At the Law Office of Paul Schiffer, we not only have the professional experience and knowledge to get you the best possible outcome, we also have the compassion and the understanding to walk you through this difficult time while preserving your dignity. You’ll never be judged or treated unfairly during your time with us based on the accusations made against you. There is still hope and our staff is ready, willing, and able to provide you with everything you need during this rough time.
If you or a loved one has been accused of indecency with a child by contact, don’t waste any more time. Contact the Law Office of Paul Schiffer by phone, email, or through our website and schedule a consultation with our staff immediately.
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.