Child Abuse, Neglect and Endangerment
From a legal perspective, child abuse can encompasses a wide range of possible allegations that may include the following:
Physical threats or direct injury to a child
Mental cruelty and emotional damage
Allowing or failing to prevent physical or mental injury or cruelty to a child
Abuse of drugs that leads to mental or emotional damage to a child or children
Allowing or compelling a child to use a controlled substance
Sexual contact with a child
Sexual activities in the presence of a child that could cause mental or emotional damage
Allowing or compelling a child to engage in sexual activities
There is significant crossover between child abuse and child neglect. In general, however, child abuse charges result from direct activity and a choice on the part of the adult. Neglect charges are the result of oversight, incompetence, or other omissions of action such as:
Allowing a child to remain in an unsafe physical or emotional environment
Failing to prevent children from falling prey to physical harm or sexual abusive situations
Refusing or failing to provide basic medical care or emergency care for dependent children
Failing to provide food, shelter, and clothing for a dependent child
Most cases of child abuse or neglect are charged as felonies. Depending on the type of offense and the severity of the emotional or physical damage caused to the minor child, a charge can range from a less serious state jail felony to a first degree felony.
State jail felonies are punishable by fines up to $10,000 and up to two years in a state jail facility.
Convictions for third degree child abuse felonies can result in a 10-year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.
Second degree felony child abuse penalties include up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
For those convicted of first degree felony child abuse, the stakes are even higher. Penalties include up to 99 years in prison and fines of as much as $10,000.
If you have been charged with child abuse or child neglect, there may also be an additional investigation and/or court proceedings brought by Child Protective Services. You should consult a qualified and knowledgeable Houston criminal lawyer with an in-depth knowledge of Texas family and criminal law to help protect your rights in connection with a Child Protective Services investigation in addition to your criminal case.
Child endangerment laws in Texas are intended to protect children under the age of 15 from abandonment and other unsafe situations. In some cases, parents have been charged with child endangerment for failing to buckle their child’s seat belt prior to an accident or for holding an infant in their lap rather than in an approved car seat. The level of the charges and the severity of the penalties for child endangerment can vary widely depending upon the underlying facts of the alleged offense.
Finding the right Houston criminal defense lawyer can be challenging. Matthew Gallagher is an experienced Houston criminal attorney with significant experience in defending clients against child abuse, neglect, and endangerment charges in the Texas legal system. His knowledge and expertise will ensure the best possible outcome for your specific situation.