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Collin County criminal defense attorney child neglect

You may think that there is a clear line between child neglect and a more laissez-faire approach to parenting. When you imagine parents being charged with neglect and abandonment, you picture a child at home alone for days, struggling to care for himself or herself. The parents that you might picture in your head are risking their child’s safety to sustain their substance addiction. While this is, unfortunately, a common reality for those facing child neglect charges in Texas, others may be facing such charges based on their hands-off approach to caring for their child. Also known as “free-range parenting,” there is debate about whether or not this relaxed parenting style makes children more independent or places kids in harm’s way.

Free-Range Parenting Explained

In 2018, Utah passed a law that addressed different parenting styles and set a line for what is considered free-range parenting and what is considered neglect and abandonment. In the age of smartphones, parents have constant contact with their children, either through text message updates or actually tracking their child’s location. Many argue that this is a blessing and allows parents to fully protect their children in a way that was unavailable to previous generations. Others, however, believe that this constant contact and watchfulness can stunt kids’ individuality and ability to navigate the world on their own. Advocate Lenore Skenazy started the movement almost a decade ago after she allowed her 9-year-old son to ride the New York City subway by himself. Since then, Utah passed the country’s first law to legalize this form of parenting to give children the freedom to do things on their own, with their parents’ permission. This includes activities such as exploring a playground, riding a bike to school, or allowing your child to remain home alone at a young age without a parent’s supervision. Some view this type of parenting as a nod to “the olden days” while others see it as the failure to protect your child. Texas does not have such a law in place, leaving some of these more radically viewed parental decisions up to the court’s discretion.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney child abuse

Child abuse is a tragedy that happens all too frequently across the world. In Texas, an average of more than four children die from abuse or neglect every week and 184 kids are confirmed victims on a daily basis. As a parent, it may seem unimaginable how an adult can hurt a child or how the statistics can be this high in a single state alone. The cruelty behind child abuse is undeniable, which can unfortunately lead to quick judgments from the court and unfounded convictions. False accusations of child abuse or neglect are not uncommon when it comes to divorce or adjustments in child custody orders. Criminal actions like those committed by Justin Fountain, a father from East Texas, should be charged in a harsh manner, as shown below. However, those facing false accusations should seek out immediate legal help from a reputable criminal defense attorney to avoid facing severe consequences for a crime they did not commit.

Texas Man Found Guilty of Injuring Daughter

In early October of this year, a man from Cherokee County was convicted of child abuse. Fountain is the father of an infant daughter whom he caused serious bodily injury to in 2019. He admitted to shaking and throwing her down after he became upset with her. Her father also blew marijuana smoke into her face to “calm her down.” According to the child’s pediatrician and adoptive parents, she still suffers ill effects from her injuries that were inflicted last year. A year later, Fountain has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after being convicted of child abuse in Texas.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney child sexual assault

A 24-year-old former educational assistant was indicted by a grand jury in Bowie County, Texas, earlier this month on two counts of an improper relationship between educator and student. The former aide was also indicted on a single count of sexual assault of a child. All three criminal charges are felonies, and they stem from interactions she allegedly had with students between November 2019 and May 2020.

Overheard Conversations

According to reports, a teacher at Texas High in the Texarkana Independent School District overheard a group of boys talking in June about how one of the boys might have gotten the instructional aide pregnant. After being confronted, the 17-year-old boy allegedly said that he had had sex with the aide but that she told him he was not her baby’s father. He also claimed that other students had sex with the assistant as well.

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Fort Worth criminal defense attorney child endangerment

The public’s opinion of drugs and alcohol has changed dramatically throughout our nation’s history. Alcohol was common in many American homes until the 18th Amendment banned the consumption of liquor, beer, and wine in 1919. Then, the 21st Amendment repealed the ban on the manufacture and consumption of alcohol. Today, marijuana is a subject of great controversy across the United States. Some consider it a dangerous “gateway drug” while others believe that the substance offers significant medicinal benefits. Although the laws surrounding drugs and alcohol are constantly changing, one certainty has remained consistent: Drugs and alcohol should not be consumed by children. Allowing a child to consume drugs or alcohol or consuming an illicit substance in the presence of a child can result in child endangerment charges.

Criminal Charges Can Result from Exposing a Child to Danger

Children are unable to adequately provide for their own safety. Consequently, they are dependent on adults to protect them from harm. When an adult fails to protect a child or allows a child to be in a dangerous situation, he or she may be charged with the criminal offense of child endangerment. One Texas woman was recently arrested and charged with child endangerment after a video surfaced of the woman allowing her 3-year-old brother to smoke marijuana. The video, which was shared on Facebook and quickly shared with Texas police, shows the boy’s 18-year-old sister and another individual actively encouraging the toddler to inhale. Child Protective Services is currently investigating the situation. It is unknown if further criminal charges will be brought against the young boy’s parents. If the sister is convicted of child endangerment, she faces up to two years of imprisonment in a Texas state jail facility.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney child abuse

Breakups and divorce can sometimes lead people to make choices they would never make otherwise. Some individuals even fabricate stories of child abuse or neglect in order to “get back” at their former partner. Unfortunately, even if an accusation of child abuse is completely unfounded, the allegation can have dramatic effects on the wrongfully accused. He or she may be investigated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or even arrested and charged with a criminal offense. If you or a loved one has been accused of causing injury to a child, it is crucial that you take swift action to protect your rights.

Responding to Allegations of Child Abuse

Understandably, being accused of a crime you did not commit can be infuriating. However, it is important to remain calm and avoid taking actions that could be used against you in any criminal proceedings. Do not confront your accuser in any way. If you have been served with a protective order or restraining order, comply with the provisions contained in the order. You may be required to surrender your firearms and/or concealed carry permit, stay away from the alleged victim’s school, or even temporarily move out of your own home. Even if the grounds for the protective order are fraudulent, you should comply with these requirements. By doing so, you show the court that you are a law-abiding citizen. Even more importantly, violating the terms of the protective order can result in additional criminal charges which will make your situation even worse.
Injury to a child is a felony offense in Texas. If you are accused of causing bodily injury or mental impairment to your child or any other child through reckless actions or inaction, you could face up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. If the alleged injury was intentional, the maximum punishment for causing injury to a child is 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. If a serious bodily injury or mental impairment was allegedly caused, the crime is a first-degree felony, which is punishable by life in prison. As you can see, the punishments for harming a child in Texas are severe. This is why it is critical for you to obtain legal support from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Do not respond to police questioning without your lawyer present. You could say or do something incriminating that is later used against you.

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Fort Worth criminal defense attorney sexual assault

Because children’s brains are not fully developed and they have not had the same life experiences as adults, it is assumed that children cannot consent to sexual activities. In the eyes of the law, this makes any sexual conduct between a child and an adult non-consensual and therefore unlawful. However, the “age of consent” or age at which a person is considered to be capable of agreeing to sex, varies from state to state. This can make it difficult to know when a sexual relationship is in violation of the law. If you have been charged with sexual assault of a child or accused of statutory rape, you could be facing life-altering criminal consequences. That is why it is important to contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Texas Law Regarding Statutory Rape

The age of consent is 17 in Texas. This means that it is unlawful for an adult to participate in sexual activities with someone who is 16 years old or younger. Texas law does not use the term “rape” for nonconsensual sex but instead refers to the act as sexual assault. Many people do not realize that they can be charged with sexual assault of a child even if the underage person agreed to the sexual activity. Sexual activity does not need to be forced or involve drugs such as Rohypnol in order to be a criminal offense. Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony in Texas. If convicted, you could be imprisoned for 2-20 years and fined up to $10,000. If you are accused of participating in non-penetrative sexual activities with a person under 17, you could be charged with indecency with a child. This is also a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. You will also be required to register as a sex offender.

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Fort Worth criminal defense attorney child endangerment

The state of Texas has a number of different laws that are designed to protect children from harm. Violating these laws can result in significant consequences including punitive action and irreparable damage to the offender’s personal reputation. Child endangerment falls under the offense of “abandoning or endangering a child.” Depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense, a person convicted of child endangerment may face six months in jail to 20 years in prison. It is sometimes difficult to know exactly what actions constitute child endangerment. Some adults end up facing criminal charges and were not even aware that their behavior was illegal.

Endangering a Child

An adult can face charges for abandoning or endangering a child if he or she leaves a child somewhere without adequate supervision and care or in circumstances that expose the child to danger. Texas courts use the “reasonable person standard” when determining whether or not a parent’s actions constitute child abandonment or endangerment. This means that the defendant’s actions are compared to what the average adult would have done in similar circumstances with a child of similar age and ability. For example, most adults would not leave a toddler home alone without supervision for fear that the child would hurt himself or herself. Therefore, this action would likely be considered child abandonment.

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Dallas criminal defense attorney child pornography

Society considers crimes against children especially heinous. In the United States, a person charged with any type of criminal offense is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, many people automatically assume that an individual accused of a child-related crime must be guilty of that crime. If you or a loved one has been charged with child sexual assault, child abuse, child pornography, or a related offense, understanding your rights is paramount to building a strong defense with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

The Right to Decline Police Questions

Law enforcement may use a variety of tactics to make a criminal defendant submit to questioning. However, it is absolutely vital that you remain silent and refrain from answering police questions until your attorney is present. Being arrested and charged with a crime can be frightening, confusing, and overwhelming. When you are in a heightened emotional state, you are in no position to answer police questions. You may say or do something during the interrogation that worsens your chances of avoiding conviction. The U.S. Constitution protects your right to prevent self-incrimination. This right applies to police questioning as well as during your trial proceedings.

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Dallas criminal defense attorney child neglect

Parents are legally responsible for providing their children with the care and attention they need to be safe. As children get older, they gradually begin to gain the skills necessary to look after themselves. It can be hard to know when a child is responsible enough to be left alone. If you are like many parents, you may have wondered, “At what age is it appropriate to leave my child at home alone?” Texas law does not state an exact age after which a parent may leave a child at home without supervision. However, there are circumstances in which a parent can face significant civil consequences and even criminal charges for leaving a minor child home alone.  

Texas Laws Regarding Child Neglect

Texas law requires parents and guardians to provide children with adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, supervision, and medical care. Failure to provide these basic necessities may constitute child neglect. A parent may also be accused of neglect if he or she allows a child to be in an unsafe situation that exposes the child to a significant risk of physical or mental harm. Child neglect is a civil offense in Texas, but it is often accompanied by criminal charges. Accusations of child neglect may lead to an investigation from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). If DFPS investigators find evidence of significant neglect or abuse, the child may be removed from the home. 

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Tarrant County criminal defense attorney child sexual abuse

Crimes against children are punished harshly in Texas. If you have been accused of sexually abusing a child, you could face significant criminal charges that result in possible jail time. Most people have a strong emotional reaction to allegations of child sex abuse. They may assume that just because a person is accused of harming a child that the person actually did harm the child. In some cases, the charges may be based on false allegations. This is why is it is crucial for anyone facing criminal charges related to child sex abuse to speak with a skilled criminal law attorney as soon as possible.

Sex Crimes Involving Minors

In Texas, there is no overarching law regarding sexual abuse of a minor. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense, a person accused of child sex abuse may be charged with:

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Dallas child abuse defense attorney

For many parents, the way they raise their children is substantially different than the way that they were raised. Parents may assume that leaving their children in the car while they are shopping or otherwise engaged is not unsafe simply because they remember waiting in the car alone when they were a child. However, states are increasingly enacting legislation designed to prevent parents from leaving children unsupervised in vehicles. In 2019, 52 children passed away after being left in hot cars. In order to prevent these tragic deaths, Texas has made it illegal to leave children alone in vehicles under certain circumstances.

Leaving a Child in a Car May Be Considered a Criminal Offense

Texas is known for its extremely hot summers. Hot and humid weather makes the risk of a child developing heatstroke or dying in a hot car especially high. Many parents who leave their children in the car only intend to be gone for a few minutes, however, it only takes 10 minutes for an average car to heat up by 19 degrees. The Texas Department of State Health Services urges parents to teach children not to play inside of cars and to never leave a young child in a car unsupervised. 

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Tarrant County child abuse defense attorney

The way that parents raise their children is evolving with each new generation. One issue that has become especially controversial in recent years is corporal punishment or using physical force such as spanking as a form of discipline. Whatever your personal opinions are regarding corporal punishment, it is important to understand how Texas law differentiates between punishment and abuse. Individuals who physically punish children in a way that crosses the line into abuse can face criminal charges for domestic assault, injury to a child, and other crimes against children.   

Definition of Family Violence According to the Texas Family Code

Texas law defines “family violence” as actions that are intended to result in bodily injury, physical harm, or assault. Abuse is defined in the Texas Family Code as:

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Dallas sex crimes defense attorney

School personnel often spend large amounts of time with students, and they may form special connections with certain individuals. However, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, and other school staff have a legal responsibility to maintain proper boundaries with students. When a teacher-student relationship involves sexual contact, this constitutes a criminal offense in Texas. Although they are against the law, romantic or sexual student-teacher relationships do exist in Texas and throughout the United States. If you or someone you know has been accused of sexual contact with a student, it is crucial to consult a criminal defense attorney to obtain the legal guidance you need.

Texas Law Regarding Teacher-Student Relationships

According to the Texas Penal Code, it is illegal for any primary school or secondary school educator to engage in sexual activity with a student. This includes teachers as well as substitute teachers, teachers’ aides, librarians, principals, administrative staff, counselors, and other employees of public or private schools. It is important to note that although the age of consent is 17 in Texas, it is still unlawful for an educator to have sexual contact with a student who is older than 17. In addition, online solicitation of a student by an educator is classified as an unlawful student-teacher relationship.

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Fort Worth child abuse and neglect defense attorney

Many parents who are contacted by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) are shocked when they realize that they are being investigated for potential child abuse or neglect. While many child protective investigations are the result of justified concerns regarding children’s safety, some investigations are the result of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation. If you are currently facing accusations of child neglect, child abuse, or domestic violence, it is possible that you will be investigated by the DFPS. Therefore, it is important to understand how Texas law handles these types of accusations of crimes against children

Allegations of Child Abuse or Neglect

According to Texas law, anyone who reasonably believes that a child has been neglected or abused must report the possible mistreatment to law enforcement or the DFPS. The DFPS is required by law to investigate these reports and make a determination about the validity of the accusations.

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Plano, Texas criminal defense attorney online solicitation of a minor

When it comes to criminal offenses, few are judged as harshly as crimes against children. Being accused of a crime against a child–especially a sex crime against a child–can have life-altering consequences. Many crimes against children do not require the alleged offender to actually make physical contact with the child. Depending on what was said, a conversation alone may be enough to bring about criminal charges. Communicating online with a person under age 17 about sexual conduct can lead to felony charges for online solicitation of a minor and potentially years behind bars. If you or someone you know has been charged with online solicitation of a minor, speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer right away to learn about your defense options.

Defining Online Solicitation of a Child

According to the Texas Penal Code, an adult commits solicitation of a child if he or she intentionally uses email, text messaging, or any other electronic device or service to do either of the following:

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Dallas prostitution defense attorney

Exchanging money or property for sexual contact is against the law in the majority of the United States, including Texas. Being charged with a prostitution-related crime can result in serious criminal consequences as well as devastating damage to the accused person’s career and reputation. This is especially true if the alleged crime involved a person younger than 18 years old. Read on to learn about prostitution-related crimes in Texas and what you should do if you or your loved one has been accused of this serious criminal offense.

Prostitution According to Texas Law

According to the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with prostitution if he or she:

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Dallas sex crimes defense attorney

Crimes against children, such as possession of child pornography, sexual assault of a childinjury to a child, solicitation of a minor, and child trafficking, are some of the most harshly punished criminal offenses in Texas and across the country. Although many criminal charges involving alleged child-related crimes do not result in convictions, some people assume that just because a person was charged, he or she actually committed the offense. However, it is essential that individuals charged with crimes against children remember that they have the same rights as any other criminal defendant. In many cases, understanding and implementing these rights can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent 

Most people have probably heard the phrase “you have the right to remain silent” numerous times, but many do not understand the true significance of this right. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives citizens the right to avoid “self-incrimination.” The term self-incrimination refers to a person being forced to testify against himself or herself. This means that you have the right to decline police questioning and remain silent until you have a chance to speak to a lawyer. Law enforcement personnel are specially trained in tactics that provoke criminal defendants to talk without their lawyers present. Police may even imply that only a guilty person would refuse to answer questions. Do not give in to these strategies. Calmly state that you are invoking your right to remain silent and will do so until you speak to a lawyer.

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Fort Worth child pornography defense attorney

There is no doubt about the tremendous influence smartphones have on our everyday lives. The use of text messaging has especially skyrocketed in recent decades. Research shows that over 15 million texts are sent every minute, and this number is expected to continue to increase. The use of text messages to send sexually explicit photographs and messages has been nicknamed “sexting.” Although it may seem harmless, sexting can sometimes lead to child pornography charges and other criminal charges. If you have been accused of creating, distributing, or possessing child pornography, speak to a Texas criminal defense attorney right away so you can start building a solid defense strategy.

Sexually Explicit Photos Between Minors May Be Illegal in Some Situations

Although many parents may not realize it, teenagers commonly send nude photographs of themselves to their peers. They may assume that these images do not constitute child pornography because the images are not being sent to an adult. However, under Texas law, it is illegal for anyone, including minors, to transmit any images or videos depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct. In some cases, sexting between minors can be considered a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. The law does provide defenses for those who receive unsolicited photos and for minors who are in a dating relationship, who are within two years of age of each other, and who share the images privately.

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Fort Worth sex crimes attorney

Although any type of criminal charge is a grave matter, being charged with a crime against a child can be especially devastating. Many people are quick to assume that just because a person has been charged with a child-related crime, he or she must be guilty of the offense. This is especially true of sex crimes against children. It is important to understand how Texas law defines indecency with a child when considering how to build a strong defense against these serious allegations. 

Texas Law Regarding Indecency With a Child

There are two reasons a person may be charged with indecency with a child in Texas. The first is if they are accused of engaging in non-penetrative sexual contact with someone under 17 years of age. A person may be convicted of indecency with a child if it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they touched the genitals, breast, or anus of the child, either above or under the child’s clothing, and this contact was intended to arouse or gratify their sexual desires. It is also against the law for a person to touch a child with their own genitals, breast, or anus.

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Tarrant County child abuse defense attorney

The terms “domestic violence” and “abuse” are used so often, it can be hard to know exactly what they mean. For example, is spanking your child after he or she misbehaves considered child abuse? What about forcefully grabbing your child’s arm when he or she is about to run into a busy street? Can non-physical actions like shouting at a child result in domestic violence charges? Being convicted of a crime against a child can result in life-changing consequences. You may lose the right to spend time with your child or may only get to see him or her under close supervision. You may even face years in prison. If you or a loved one has been accused of child abuse, child sexual abuse, injury to a child, domestic violence, or a similar crime, speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so you can start building a strong defense against these charges.

Definition of “Abuse” Under Texas Law

According to the Texas Family Code, abuse of a child includes:

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