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Consequences of Child Abuse: How Possible Sexual Abuse is Investigated

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Child Sexual Abuse Investigations in Texas

Being accused of child abuse is one of the most serious criminal processes that can occur to a person in Texas. Law enforcement takes these accusations extremely seriously and will investigate them exhaustively. The purpose of these investigations is to determine if there is any evidence which may support the claims of abuse. Law enforcement is very invested in arresting and prosecuting people guilty of child abuse but they are also invested in disproving false claims.

The child abuse investigation process is typically intensive and lengthy. Several independent organizations, such as the local police department and CPS, may coordinate their efforts during an investigation. The outcome of their investigation can determine whether or not an arrest or prosecution is pursued.

How The Investigation Process Works

In the state of Texas, the child abuse investigation process begins when someone files a complaint or an accusation. In most cases, these accusations may come from a parent, family friend, a teacher or the child. Upon learning of possible abuse, a person will typically contact law enforcement. Police may interview the alleged suspect or place that person into custody if there are obvious signs of violence or abuse.

In many cases, Child Protective Services will conduct the abuse investigation. After a report of abuse is filed, the suspected abuser may be taken away from the alleged victim for protection and to preserve the integrity of the investigation.

CPS usually follows a strict set of steps during an abuse investigation. These steps include:

  • An interview with the child
  • An examination of the child, performed by a physician, to find signs of trauma or abuse
  • An interview with a parent of the child who is not suspected of abuse
  • Questioning the person accused of the abuse
  • An objective assessment of the risk to the child

These steps each serve a specific purpose. The child interview is conducted to find out if the child can provide a description of the alleged abuse. The medical exam is crucial to the investigation because it may produce clear physical evidence of abuse. Interviewing the non-suspect parent can lead to information that would not otherwise be brought forward.

The person accused of the abuse will also be interviewed directly to see if they will offer an admission of guilt or provide additional information. Finally, CPS will perform a risk assessment. This is done to determine if the child is at risk for further physical or mental abuse if they remain in their home or near the suspected abuser. If a high degree of risk is found, the child may be removed from the home and placed into state care.

Forms of Child Sexual Abuse

There are specific laws and penalties in Texas to deal with the various forms of child abuse. Depending on the facts of a particular case, criminal charges can vary a great deal. For example, some forms of child abuse include:

  • Physical sexual assault of a child
  • Compelling a child to engage in prostitution or a sexual performance
  • Compelling a child to work in a sexually-themed environment
  • Compelling a child to participate in child pornography or exposing a child to pornography
  • Attempting to meet a child for sexual purposes
  • Kidnapping a child for sexual purposes

A person who is found guilty of any of these actions may be subject to criminal prosecution and extremely severe criminal penalties.

Legal Penalties

Being convicted of a child sexual abuse charge in Texas is one of the most serious situations that a person could find themselves in. These crimes are taken especially seriously because children are legally considered a protected class of citizens.

Some of the penalties for these offenses include:

  • Sexual assault of a child – Second degree felony punishable by 20 years in prison
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child – First degree felony punishable by 99 years or life in prison
  • Indecency with a child – Second degree felony punishable by 20 years in prison
  • Exposing a child to harmful or explicit material – Class A misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail
  • Sexual performance by a child – Third degree felony punishable by up to two years in prison

In addition to a prison sentence and thousands of dollars in fines, a person who is convicted of child sexual abuse may be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of their life.

Child sexual abuse charges are incredibly serious. A person who is facing these charges should not discuss their case with anyone except their lawyer. Hiring a lawyer as soon as an accusation is made is the best way to begin preparing a legal defense for the case. If this defense is successful, the accused may be able to avoid prosecution or conviction.


Are you or someone you know currently being investigated for suspected child abuse? It’s important to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Attorney Brett Podolsky can help protect your rights. Contact his office today at 713-227-0087.

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