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What Actions Can Constitute Child Abuse According to Texas Law?

 Posted on February 14, 2020 in Criminal Defense

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:

  • Physical injury to a child that results in significant harm or the threat of significant harm

  • Emotional or mental harm to a child that results in observable and substantial damage to the child’s development or psychological functioning

  • Sexual conduct that is damaging to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being

  • Sexual conduct that is prohibited by the Texas Penal Code, including sexual abuse, indecency with a child, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault

  • Producing or allowing the production of pornographic photographs, videos, and other depictions of a child

  • Using certain controlled substances in a way that results in physical, mental, or emotional harm to a child or allowing a child to use a controlled substance

In addition to these actions, an individual may also be accused of child abuse if he or she allows a child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a physical, sexual, mental, or emotional injury.

Reasonable Discipline Defense

Understandably, parents sometimes need to discipline their children. The Texas Penal Code states that the use of non-deadly force against a child is justified if both of the below conditions apply:

  • The actor is the child’s parent, step-parent, grandparent, guardian, or someone with jurisdiction over the child

  • The actor reasonably believes that the force is needed to protect the child’s well-being or to discipline the child

This means that reasonable actions taken by parents or guardians intended to discipline a child or protect his or her safety are not considered child abuse. However, a person may still accuse someone else of child abuse for these actions. False allegations of child abuse are sadly common, especially in contentious child custody cases.

Contact a Plano, Texas Child Abuse Defense Lawyer

Child abuse can include any action that causes a child significant physical, mental, or emotional harm. It can also include permitting a child to be placed in a situation in which he or she is substantially harmed. If you have been accused of abusing a child, you need a seasoned Fort Worth criminal defense attorney who can help you defend yourself against these accusations. Attorney Darlina Crowder has extensive experience helping clients avoid criminal convictions for crimes against children. Call The Crowder Law Firm P.C. at 214-544-0061 and schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.



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