There are very few more emotionally charged issues than that of child abuse. The court of public opinion is in a constant rush to judgment when hearing about these allegations, and you will have a very difficult time finding support from those around you in this situation. Child abuse tends to be subjectively analyzed with snap judgments by many of those who are tasked with deciding the fate of the defendant.
This has lead to many people wrongly accused of child abuse or given a sentence that is completely disproportionate to their actions. With a case that involves the welfare of a child, it will take a great effort to put you in a position that allows you to effectively argue your case and escape unscathed.
Fortunately, you do have a strong advocate in Matt Horak, a criminal defense attorney in Houston who is committed to protecting the rights of his clients, while ensuring they are given a fair opportunity to refute the allegations and move on with their life.
Houston Child Abuse Attorney
A child abuse allegation must be met with a proactive defense strategy that focuses on the facts of the case. For such a serious domestic violence charge, the defense attorney must leave nothing to chance while taking every avenue necessary to find holes in the prosecution and disprove the allegations.
Matt Horak employs an objective defense philosophy that focuses on the details of the case, leading to a more organized and stronger argument. Systematically taking in all the facts of the allegations line by line, allows Matt to offer accurate and efficient legal representation. His commitment to client service, along with a sincere interest in protecting your constitutional rights make Matt an attorney that you can count on to always have your best interests in mind.
In addition to serving Houston residents, along with those throughout the rest of the Harris County cities and towns, Matt also proudly represents individuals and families in and around The Woodlands, Conroe, Galveston, Cypress, Pearland, League City, Spring, and Tomball, among many others.
The firm offers initial consultations for individuals interested in discussing the details of their child abuse case in order to figure out defense options. These confidential meetings can be scheduled by calling (713) 225-8000 or sending an online message. With the primary goal of offering a quick response, to can be certain that Matt will begin work on your case as soon as possible.
- Texas Child Abuse Laws
- Child Abuse Penalties in Texas
- What To Do if You Suspect Child Abuse
- Additional Resources for Child Abuse
Texas Child Abuse Laws
According to Texas law, child abuse is defined as:
- Mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning;
- Causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning;
- Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given. This does not include an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent or guardian that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm;
- Failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury and substantial harm to the child;
- Sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare;
- Allowing a child to use a controlled substance.
As for the offense of child abuse (injury to a child 14 years of age or younger) a person commits the offense if that person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, causes a child:
- Bodily injury;
- Serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury;
- Serious bodily injury; or
Child Abuse Penalties in Texas
As for the penalties, if a person is accused of child abuse and they are found to have knowingly or intentionally caused the abuse, they will be charged and convicted of a felony in the first degree. This comes with a presumptive sentence of up to 99 years in prison and / or fines of up to $10,000.
If the person was found to have recklessly caused child abuse, they will be charged and convicted of a felony of the second degree. This comes with a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and / or fines of up to $10,000.
Furthermore, current law requires that professionals such as teachers, doctors, nurses, or child daycare workers must make a verbal report within 48 hours. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2,000 (Texas Family Code, Chapter 261). Some of the common signs of child abuse can include:
- Frequent injuries such as bruises, cuts, black eyes or burns, especially when the child cannot adequately explain their causes
- Burns or bruises in an unusual pattern that may indicate the use of an instrument or a human bite; cigarette burns on any part of the body
- Frequent complaints of pain without obvious injury
- Passive, withdrawn, emotionless behavior
- Fear of going home or seeing parents
What To Do if You Suspect Child Abuse
Current Texas statutes requires that professionals such as doctors, child daycare workers, and teachers report child abuse within 48 hours. The Texas Penal Code defines “professional” as an individual who is an employee of a facility licensed by the state and has direct contact with children. A professional may not rely on another person to make the report.
Per Texas Family Code Sec. 261.109, failure to report child abuse in the state of Texas carries serious consequences. Reporters who do not notify the appropriate authorities of suspected child abuse could face a Class A misdemeanor. If charged with a Class B misdemeanor, professionals may face up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
Additional Resources for Child Abuse
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) – The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) protects children and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect and exploitation through investigations, services and prevention programs. Visit the webpage to learn more about child protective services. Child Protective Services responsibilities include placing children in foster care, helping children get adopted, and providing services to children and families in their own homes.
Child Abuse: Cameron County Children’s Advocacy Centers Inc. – The Center’s mission is to serve and advocate for child victims of abuse through prevention, intervention, and treatment. It offers free therapy services to victims of child abuse and their non-offending family members.
Horak Law | Harris County Child Abuse Lawyer
The time to act is now if you have been accused of child abuse. Texas law allows for harsh sanctions for those convicted, so finding the proper defense strategy is paramount. Considering it is a crime not to report alleged child abuse, there are going to be very few advocates willing to side with the individual accused.
Fortunately, you have a strong and professional advocate in Horak Law. Matt Horak has experience in child abuse cases and will draw on this previous work to produce a defense that both challenges the allegations and uses the law to your advantage. His in-depth legal knowledge will enable him to create a strategy that is focused on denying the prosecution the ability to pinpoint you as the offender.
Using this proactive and measured approach, along with a commitment to client service, Matt is a strong legal option for an extremely fragile situation such as this. He offers legal counsel that is cost-effective as well, knowing that a child abuse case can have both short and long-term negative effects on your pocketbook.
If you are have been accused of child abuse in Southeastern Texas, call (713) 225-8000 or send an online message today to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston. Matt represents individuals charged with child abuse throughout Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Liberty County and Brazoria County.