If you have been accused of child abuse or domestic abuse of a child in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex, you can face serious repercussions if you are convicted of this felony offense. At trial, the jury will often favor the child and try to punish the alleged child abuser to the fullest extent of the law. Penalties for child abuse allegations can include a criminal record, a negative impact on your personal and professional relationships, jail or prison time, possible requirements to register as a sex offender, and/or steep fines.
If you have been accused of child abuse, you do not necessarily have to face a criminal conviction. Allegations often arise from the simple discipline of a child by a parent.
Texas law enforcement will generally investigate even the smallest accusations of discipline or physical abuse, including spanking a child, or any bruises or marks on the child. Many times, parents, family members, and caretakers are surprised to find they are the subject of a child abuse investigation. If you are facing accusations of child abuse in Dallas, it is important to contact an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to begin creating your best legal strategy.
Dallas Child Abuse Lawyer
If you have been charged with child abuse in Dallas, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas, including Rockwall, Johnson, Mesquite, Carrollton, or Richardson, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Attorney Richard McConathy is experienced in defending domestic violence allegations and will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation. Call Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy for a free consultation at (972) 233-5700 about your child abuse allegations.
Child Abuse in Dallas
An individual can be charged with child abuse or injury to a child under Tex. Penal Code § 22.04, if they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence cause:
- Bodily injury.
- Serious bodily injury, or
- Serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury.
Serious bodily injury is defined under Texas law as any injury to a person that causes impairment or loss of any body part or organ permanently or for a substantial period of time, or any injury that will probably cause death.
Additionally, under Texas law, an individual can also be charged with child abuse if they have a legal or statutory duty to act on behalf of, or if they are someone who has assumed care for a child but fails to act on behalf of or care for the child.
Under Texas law, every person has a duty to report suspected child abuse to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. If they fail to do so, they can be charged with a misdemeanor or state jail felony offense.
Dallas Child Abuse Mental States
The state prosecutor must prove an individual has a certain mental state in order to convict the alleged offender of child abuse. An individual must have acted intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence when they allegedly committed the offense. Since these mental states are unique to every person, it is generally more difficult for the prosecutor to show the alleged offender had a certain state of mind.
According to Tex. Penal Code § 6.03, the most common child abuse mental states are defined as:
- Intentionally – An individual has this state of mind if they commit some type of conduct and it is in their desire or conscious objective to engage in the conduct or to cause the result.
- Knowingly – An individual has this state of mind if they commit some type of conduct and they are aware their conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result.
- Recklessly – An individual has this state of mind if they commit some act and they are aware of the result of the conduct, but consciously disregard the possibility the result will occur.
- Criminal Negligence – An individual has this state of mind if they should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur.
Penalties for Child Abuse in Dallas
Offenses are punishable as a felony of the first degree if the alleged offender acted intentionally or knowingly and caused serious bodily injury or serious mental injury to a child. This degree of offense can result in a prison sentence from five to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Child abuse offenses are punishable as a felony of the second degree if the alleged offender acted recklessly and caused serious bodily injury or serious mental injury. This degree of offense can result in two to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000,
Child abuse offenses are punishable as a felony of the third degree if the alleged offender acted intentionally or knowingly and caused bodily injury. This degree of offense can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Child abuse offenses are punishable as a state jail felony if the alleged offender acted recklessly and caused bodily injury. This degree of offense can result in a jail sentence from 180 days to two years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000,
Child abuse offenses are punishable as a state jail felony if the alleged offender acted with criminal negligence. This degree of offense can result in 180 days to two years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Abandoning or Endangering a Child
Abandoning or endangering a child is a charge closely related to child abuse. While the law governing injury to a child deals with actual physical or mental injury resulting from some action, abandonment or endangerment are crimes of inaction.
Texas Penal Code Section 22.041 defines the crime of abandoning or endangering a child. This statute defines a child as a person below the age of 15. Under this law, it is illegal to:
- Leave a child anywhere they may be exposed to an unreasonable risk of harm; r
- Knowingly, recklessly, intentionally, or with criminal negligence engage in activities that place a child at risk of dying, sustaining bodily injury, or becoming physically or mentally impaired.
Texas provides separate punishments based on the intent of the person abandoning the child.
If a person intended to return for the child, the crime is charged as a state jail felony with a maximum possible sentence of 180 days to 2 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. If the intent was to abandon the child fully and never return, that person faces third-degree felony charges. The maximum penalties for a felony of the third degree include a 2- to 10-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
Whether a child is injured as a direct result of violent action or is placed in harm’s way due to lack of care or supervision, Texas law takes maltreatment of its children very seriously. It’s in your best interest to contact a qualified criminal defense attorney to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Find a Fort Worth Child Abuse Attorney | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your accusations of child abuse throughout Dallas County in Texas. Richard McConathy is an experienced Dallas family violence lawyer who will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious punishments and consequences of your alleged offense.
Contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged child abuse offense throughout Dallas County in Texas and the surrounding counties of Denton County, Collin County, and Tarrant County.
This article was last updated on Thursday, January 31, 2019.A