Indecency Laws in Texas
The state of Texas has specific laws to deal with the crime of indecency. These laws stipulate the definition of this criminal act and the nature of the legal penalties associated with a conviction. In most cases, these laws are designed to protect children and minors from prohibited sexual contact with adults.
There are two main categories of indecency with a child: exposure and contact. Each one of these categories has a specific definition and unique punishments. Understanding more about the exact definitions of these two distinct yet related criminal actions can help people makes sense of charges they may be facing after an arrest.
What Is Indecency by Exposure?
In Texas, the crime of indecency by exposure refers to the act of inappropriately displaying nudity to a minor or a child. Specifically, the law mentions the act of displaying genitals openly when a child is present. This could apply to cases involving:
- A person who intentionally shows their genitals to a child
- A person who causes a child to display their genitals in order to arouse or gratify a sexual desire
This charge is often applied in cases of “flashing“. If a person exposes their naked body in a lewd or inappropriate manner, they could be charged with indecency by exposure. In the state of Texas, this crime is considered a third degree felony.
What Is Indecency by Contact?
This crime is considered much more serious than an indecent exposure charge. As such, it can be punished much more harshly than the previous offense.
A person can be charged with this crime if:
- They intentionally touch the genitals or breast of a minor or a child
- They cause the genitals, breast or anus of any person to be touched by a minor or a child
Knowingly or intentionally touching a minor or a child in a way that is meant to arouse sexual gratification can be grounds for a serious criminal charge. A conviction on this charge can lead to years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Additionally, a conviction for this offense can lead to mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender.
The legal penalties for either of these offenses can be quite severe. They can have long lasting effects on the life of anyone who is convicted of these crimes. According to section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code, a person who is convicted of indecency by exposure can face:
- A prison sentence of up to ten years
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Mandatory registration as a sex offender
The crime of indecency by contact is much more serious. According to the Texas Penal Code, a person who is convicted of this offense can be facing penalties from a second degree felony charge. Under the law, this can lead to:
- Up to a maximum of twenty years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender
Even being charged with one of these offenses can be very serious. These kinds of charges can carry a heavy stigma that can affect a person’s job prospects, as well as their standing in the community.
It’s possible to construct a sound legal defense to fight these kinds of charges in court. Hiring a defense attorney is the best way to explore these legal defense options. For example, a defense attorney could submit evidence claiming that the defendant has no physical link to the crimes and is only facing charges because of witness claims.
If this strategy is successful, the court might agree to drop the charges entirely or offer the defendant a plea deal to a less severe charge.
Have you been accused of indecent exposure or contact? Time is of the essence in these situations. Don’t hesitate to contact a legal representative. Brett A. Podolsky has the experience needed to protect your right. Email or call his office today at (713) 227-0087.