Houston Criminal Defense Blog

The Degrees and Consequences of Indecency with a Child

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Indecency With A Child in Texas

In Texas, the crime commonly referred to as child molestation is legally referred to as indecency with a child. This crime refers to the inappropriate touching or sexual contact of a minor by an adult. According to the law, this crime is separated into two different categories: Indecency by exposure and indecency by contact. Cases of indecency with a child involving actual physical contact are much more serious than cases that only involve indecent exposure. However, both of these indecency crimes are very serious and can lead to a large variety of penalties.

There are some valid legal defenses to these charges. However, they apply in very specific circumstances. Knowing more about this crime can help people to understand the relevant defenses.

Types of Indecency With A Child

According to Section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code, the crime of indecency with a child involves inappropriate, sexually-based actions that are conducted in the presence of a child under age 17. There are two types of indecent behavior: exposure of body parts or inappropriate physical contact.

Indecent exposure is defined as:

  • A person who intentionally exposes their anus or genitals in the presence of a child in order to arouse or gratify sexual desire
  • A person who intentionally causes a child to expose their anus or genitals

Indecency by physical contact is defined as:

  • A person who intentionally touches the anus, breast or genitals of a child, either under or over clothing, in order to arouse or gratify sexual desire
  • A person who intentionally touches a child with their genitals or sexual organs

Of these two offenses, indecency by actual physical contact is more severe. However, a conviction on either one of these offenses can lead to felony charges and imprisonment.

Legal Penalties

The legal consequences for a conviction of indecency with a child can be long-lasting and severe. They can include lengthy prison time, fines and mandatory registration as a sex offender. For example, a person who is convicted of indecency with a child by exposure can face:

  • A lifetime criminal record of a third degree felony conviction
  • Incarceration in state prison for two years or up to 10 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

A person who is convicted on charges of indecency with a child by physical contact can face:

  • A lifetime criminal record of a second degree felony conviction
  • Incarceration in state prison for two years or up to 20 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Additionally, a person convicted on either one of these counts may face mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender. This means that they may be prevented from living in certain areas or getting certain types of employment. It also means that they may be required to report to an officer on a regular basis for the rest of their life.

Legal Defenses

There are several legal defenses to prosecution under this charge written into the Texas Penal Code. For example, it is a legitimate defense to prosecution if the defendant:

  • Is of the opposite sex of the victim and was not more than three years older than the victim
  • Did not use threats or force at the time of the incident
  • Is not a registered sex offender
  • Has not been convicted or received adjudication for a sexually-based offense

It is also a legitimate defense to prosecution if the actor was legally married to the child at the time of the incident.

There may still be legal defenses available to people who do not meet these criteria. A defense attorney may be able to argue that there is no actual physical evidence which can be used to reach a conviction. The attorney may argue that a child has been coached to make false statements or that the child had the motivation to make a false claim of indecency. If this strategy is successful, the court may agree to drop the charges or to allow the defendant to plead guilty to a less severe charge that does not require sex offender registration.


Facing charges of indecency with a child can be a stressful and scary experience. Let an experienced attorney defend you and ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the Law Offices of Billy Skinner to get the justice you deserve.

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