Child molestation is one of the most serious crimes a person can be charged with. Even the mere accusation can permanently label a resident of Collin County as a child molester in the eyes of the public. And if convicted, an individual may have to legally register as a sex offender for the rest of their life, even if they move to another county. For that reason alone it is imperative to contact an experienced Collin County sex crimes lawyer if you are even suspected by the police of a molestation offense.
How Does Texas Law Define Molestation?
There is actually no specific Texas law that uses the term “molestation.” Rather, Chapter 21 of the Texas Penal Code defines a number of “sexual offenses” where children are the victims. For example, Section 21.02 provides that “continuous sexual abuse of [a] young child or children” is a Class A felony punishable by life in prison. To convict someone of this offense, prosecutors must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant committed “two or more acts of sexual abuse” during a period of at least 30 days; and
- The defendant was at least 17 and the victim or victims were under the age of 14 when the acts of sexual abuse took place.
“Sexual abuse” does not just refer to rape or intercourse. It may also include “indecency,” i.e. exposing oneself in front of a child, or induces a child to engage in a “sexual performance.” A jury also need not unanimously agree on which particular acts of sexual abuse the defendant committed, only that he or she committed at least two of them over a period of at least 30 days.
Other Sexual Felonies Involving Children
Even if prosecutors cannot prove “continuous sexual abuse,” they can still go after a person for individual acts involving a child. As noted above, this can include indecency with a child (a third-degree felony), sexual assault (a second-degree felony), inducing a sexual performance by a child (a first-degree felony if the child is younger than 14), and compelling prostitution of a person under the age of 18 (a first-degree felony).
Why You Need an Experienced Collin County Defense Lawyer
Child molestation accusations often provoke public outrage. Police and prosecutors often exploit that outrage to overcome deficiencies in their evidence. Especially when dealing with you children who are eager to please authority figures, it is not uncommon for prosecutors to build a case based on exaggerated or false claims.
Unfortunately, even if you are wrongfully accused, you cannot just assume it is a misunderstanding and that telling the police your side of the story will make the problem go away. If you even suspect you are under investigation for molestation, you need to contact a qualified Collin County criminal defense attorney without delay.
At Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC, we know how to deal with police and prosecutors. We also understand how sensitive molestation cases are, and we will make sure the criminal justice system respects your rights and does not rush to judgment against you. Call our offices in McKinney today at 972-369-0577 if you require immediate legal assistance.