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State Bar of Texas

Understanding Texas Continuous Sex Assault of a Child Crime and Common Defenses

Jerry W. Tidwell, Jr.

In the state of Texas, the crime of continuous sex assault of a child is taken very seriously. It involves multiple acts of sexual abuse committed against a child over a period of time. This offense carries severe penalties and has far-reaching consequences for the accused. In this blog post, we will explore what constitutes continuous sex assault of a child in Texas, the legal elements involved, and common defenses that can be raised in a criminal case.

I. Definition and Elements of Continuous Sex Assault of a Child:

Continuous sex assault of a child is defined under Section 21.02 of the Texas Penal Code. To establish this crime, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  1. The accused intentionally committed two or more acts of sexual abuse against a child.
  2. The acts were committed during a period that is 30 or more days in duration.

It is important to note that each individual act does not have to meet the definition of sexual assault but must be part of a continuous pattern of abuse over the specified time period.

II. Penalties for Continuous Sex Assault of a Child:

Continuous sex assault of a child is a felony offense in Texas. The severity of the penalties depends on various factors, including the age of the victim and the nature of the abuse. The potential penalties for this crime are as follows:

  1. If the victim is under 14 years of age:
    • First-degree felony: Punishable by a prison term ranging from 25 years to life imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum of 25 years.
  2. If the victim is 14 years of age or older but under 17 years of age:
    • Second-degree felony: Punishable by a prison term ranging from 2 to 20 years, with a mandatory minimum of 5 years.

III. Common Defenses in a Texas Criminal Case:

When facing charges of continuous sex assault of a child in Texas, defendants have the right to present a defense. While every case is unique and requires tailored legal strategies, some common defenses in such cases include:

  1. Lack of evidence:
    • Challenging the prosecution’s ability to prove the alleged acts of sexual abuse occurred, such as questioning the credibility of witnesses or the reliability of forensic evidence.
  2. False accusations:
    • Presenting evidence or testimony that the allegations were fabricated or motivated by ulterior motives, such as revenge or custody disputes.
  3. Mistaken identity:
    • Arguing that the defendant has been misidentified as the perpetrator and providing an alibi or other evidence to support this claim.
  4. Constitutional violations:
    • Asserting that the defendant’s rights were violated during the investigation or arrest, such as illegal search and seizure or coerced confessions.
  5. Insufficient duration:

Contending that the alleged acts did not occur over a period of 30 or more days, failing to meet the legal requirement for continuous sex assault of a child.

Continuous sex assault of a child is a serious offense in Texas, carrying severe penalties for those convicted. It is crucial for individuals facing such charges to understand the legal elements involved and the potential defenses available to them. If you or someone you know is involved in a criminal case related to continuous sex assault of a child, it is essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide personalized guidance and protect your rights throughout the legal process.

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