The felony offense of child abuse or domestic abuse of a child in the Tarrant County area can lead to very serious repercussions for an alleged offender. Juries typically favor the child and try to punish alleged child abusers to the fullest extent of the law. Penalties for child abuse may 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.
In truth, a person accused of child abuse could avoid a criminal conviction. Many child abuse allegations arise from the simple discipline of a child by a parent.
Texas law enforcement will usually investigate even the smallest accusation of discipline or physical abuse, including spanking a child, or any bruises or marks on the child. Parents, family members, and caretakers are often stunned to learn they are the subject of a child abuse investigation. If you are facing accusations of child abuse in Tarrant County, it is important to contact an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to begin creating your best legal strategy.
Child Abuse Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, Southlake, TX
If you were charged with child abuse in Tarrant County, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas, including Arlington, Azle, Bedford, Benbrook, Blue Mound, Burleson, Colleyville, Crowley, Dalworthington Gardens, Edgecliff Village, Euless, Everman, Flower Mound, Forest Hill, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Haltom City, Haslet, Hurst, Keller, Kennedale, Lakeside, Lake Worth, Mansfield, Newark, North Richland Hills, Pantego, Pelican Bay, Reno, Richland Hills, River Oaks, Saginaw, Sansom Park, Southlake, Trophy Club, Watauga, Westlake, Westover Hills, Westworth Village, or White Settlement, contact The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Attorney Richard McConathy is experienced in defending all kinds of domestic violence allegations and will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation. Call our firm for a free consultation at (817)-422-5350 about your child abuse allegations.
Child Abuse in Tarrant County
A person may be charged with child abuse or injury to a child under Texas 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.
The definition of serious bodily injury under Texas law is 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.
Fort Worth 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 Texas 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.
Essentially, intentionally means that a person intended to cause the alleged action, knowingly means the person was aware of the nature of their actions, recklessly means the person was aware of the risk but disregarded it, and criminal negligence applies when a person’s actions represent a deviation from the standard of care.
Penalties for Child Abuse in Tarrant County
Child abuse 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. 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. The term “abandon” means to leave a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child, under circumstances under which no reasonable, similarly situated adult would leave a child of that age and ability. Under this law, it is illegal to:
- Leave a child anywhere they may be exposed to an unreasonable risk of harm;
- 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.
It is presumed that a person engaged in conduct that places a child in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment if:
- the person manufactured, possessed, or in any way introduced into the body of any person the controlled substance methamphetamine in the presence of the child;
- the person’s conduct related to the proximity or accessibility of the controlled substance methamphetamine to the child and an analysis of a specimen of the child’s blood, urine, or other bodily substance indicates the presence of methamphetamine in the child’s body; or
- the person injected, ingested, inhaled, or otherwise introduced a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 1, Section 481.102, Health and Safety Code, or Penalty Group 1-B, Section 481.1022, Health and Safety Code, into the human body when the person was not in lawful possession of the substance as defined by Section 481.002(24) of that code.
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.
Tarrant County Child Abuse Resources
Child abuse – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic — Learn more about the different types of child abuse. Find information about symptoms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. There is also information about parental behavior.
Child Abuse & Neglect – Violence Prevention – CDC — Use this website to access fast facts, risk and protective behaviors, and prevention strategies. You can also find information about data, research, and resources. Essentials for Childhood includes essentials for childhood framework, essentials for parenting resources, funded state profiles, and framework resources.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Child Abuse Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your accusations of child abuse throughout Tarrant 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.
Call The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at (817)-422-5350 or contact us online for a consultation about your alleged child abuse offense throughout Tarrant County in Texas and the surrounding counties of Collin County, Dallas County, and Denton County.