Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Sex Crimes involving Children

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FAQs about Sex Crimes involving Children

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Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child

Questions

What makes a Sexual Assault of a Child Charge "Aggravated?"[Answer]

What is Indecency with a Child?[Answer]

Does the Age of the Accused Matter?[Answer]

What Should I do if I am Contacted by the Police to Speak to them About an Allegation Against You of Child Sexual Abuse?[Answer]

How Can I Defend Myself Against a False Accusation of Child Sexual Abuse?[Answer]

Does Possession of Child Pornography Violate Both State and Federal Law?[Answer]

How Can I Defend Myself Against an Accusation of Possession of Child Pornography?[Answer]

Answers
What makes a Sexual Assault of a Child Charge "Aggravated?"

The offense of Sexual Assault of a Child is defined by Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.011. Basically, the offense involves sexual activity with a person under 17 years of age. Please consult the statute for details. Sexual Assault of a Child is Aggravated if the child is under 14 years of age, if a deadly weapon is used or serious bodily injury is threatened. See Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.021 for a complete list of factors that will make a Sexual Assault of a Child Charge "aggravated." Sexual Assault of a Child is, in most cases, a Second Degree Felony. (2-20 years.) Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is a First Degree Felony. (5 to 99 years or life.) If the child was younger than 6 if the child was under six at the time of the offense or there was violence or a threat of violence involved.

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What is Indecency with a Child?

Indecency with a Child is defined by Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.11 as either engaging in sexual contact with a child or exposure of one's anus or genitals to a child under 17 or causing the child to expose his or her anus or genitals to the actor with the intent to arouse or gratify someone sexually. Sexual contact is basically touching of the genitals with intent to arouse or gratify someone sexually. Note that some forms of genital contact may be Sexual Assault of a Child. See Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.011. Indecency with a Child by Contact in most circumstances is a Second Degree Felony. (2 to 20 years.) Indecency with a Child by Exposure is a Third Degree Felony. (2 to 10 years.)

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Does the Age of the Accused Matter?

It is an affirmative defense to Indecency with a Child and Sexual Assault of a Child that the actor was not more than three years older than the child, and did not have a prior conviction for certain sexual offenses, and the child was older than 14 and was not related to the actor.

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What Should I do if I am Contacted by the Police to Speak to them About an Allegation Against You of Child Sexual Abuse?

The first thing to do is to get a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. We see may individuals that have placed themselves at a serious disadvantage by speaking with police investigators without the assistance of counsel. Most people have no idea how coercive police interrogations are. Many individuals come away from an intensive interrogation having said things that were not true. If you are contacted by the police to discuss an allegation of child sexual abuse (or any other type of allegation) you should immediately contact a lawyer. You and your lawyer can make a decision about whether you should speak to the police at all. If your lawyer advises you to speak to the police, your lawyer can be with you to make sure that the questioning is fairly conducted.

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How Can I Defend Myself Against a False Accusation of Child Sexual Abuse?

A skilled lawyer will investigate your case factually and prepare a defense. It is important to determine why the child has made the accusation. Was the child influenced by an adult? Did the allegations result from improper questioning of the child by authorities? Experts may be added to the defense team to explain to the jury circumstances that could lead to false accusations.

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Does Possession of Child Pornography Violate Both State and Federal Law?

Yes. Possession of Child Pornography is prohibited by both Texas law and federal law. Child pornography cases are investigated by local law enforcement, The Texas Office of the Attorney General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Postal Inspectors and other agencies depending on how the images were discovered. Sometimes state law enforcement officials will begin an investigation but refer the case to the United States Attorney's Office for prosecution in federal court.

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How Can I Defend Myself Against an Accusation of Possession of Child Pornography?

In the age of the Internet, the vast majority of child pornography cases involve digital images found on computer hard drives. The defense lawyer's first focus is on whether the discovery of the alleged illegal images was in violation of the constitutional rights of the accused. Also, the evidence must show that the accused knew that the images were on the computer hard drive. Examination of the computer's drive by a forensic expert can sometimes uncover information about who may have place the images on the drive or whether they were intentionally placed there. Further, sometimes the evidence in the case does not prove that the images were of actual children rather than computer generated or altered images. Again, trained experts are needed to make this determination.

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