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Child Abuse

Under Texas law section 261.001, child abuse is defined as a “mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning.” The law also specifies that any physical injuries that cause substantial harm to children is also considered child abuse.

Most child abuse charges are classified as a Class A or Class B misdemeanor. Those charges that involve assault are typically upgraded to a felony of the third degree. The Texas Penal Code does provide certain affirmative defenses that mitigate or prohibit legal consequences of alleged criminal actions.

Attorneys in San Antonio for Child Abuse

If you believe that you are the possible target of a criminal investigation or you have been arrested for allegedly abusing a child, we recommend you immediately retain experienced legal counsel from a criminal defense lawyer in San Antonio, Texas.

Goldstein & Orr has been aggressively defending clients against criminal charges throughout San Antonio and Bexar County since 1968.

Our lawyers can review your case as soon as you call (210) 226-1463 or submit an online contact form to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.

 Bexar County Child Abuse Information Center


Child Abuse Definitions in Texas

Chapter 21 of the Texas penal code broadly defines child abuse as any severe physical harm or psychological damage inflicted on a child by an adult. The law also distinguishes in placing the child in a situation where she or he sustains mental or emotional injury that results in observable and material impairment in the child’s development and psychological functioning. Put simply, parents and guardians who do not make reasonable efforts to protect children from physical, mental and sexual abuse can be charged with child abuse.

Texas’ child abuse laws also have protections against sexual acts and sex trafficking of children.

People who can be charged with child abuse includes but is not limited to:

  • A parent, guardian, or foster parent of the child
  • A member of the child’s family or household
  • A person with whom the child’s parents cohabits like a boyfriend, girlfriend or roommate
  • School personnel or a volunteer at the child’s school
  • An employee or a volunteer at a public or private childcare facility

Put plainly, any adult who is in charge of the care of children can be charged with child abuse if that child suffers severe physical, mental, or any type of sexual abuse.


Child Abuse Charges in Texas

If the charge of child abuse involves assault, then the accused faces state penalties for injury to a child, elderly individual or disabled individual. A child in this instance means any person 14 years of age or younger. The specific classification of the crime depends on the alleged offender’s intent and the nature of the alleged injuries suffered by the child:

  • Any person who intentionally or knowingly caused bodily harm to a child can be charged with a felony in the first degree under Texas penal code 22.04. If prosecutors find that the conduct is reckless, it is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • If an alleged offender intentionally or knowingly causes serious bodily injury or serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury to a child, it is a first-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 99 years or life in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.
  • When it comes to child abuse of a sexual nature, a child is defined as a person younger than 17 years of age, according to Texas’ assault laws. Most sexual assault charges involving children are second-degree felonies, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • However, those accused of threatening to harm a child in order to perform or receive a sexual act can be charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. These charges are considered a first-degree felony which is punishable by five years to life in prison, plus fines. If the victim is younger than 6 or if the victim is younger than 14 and the accused perform specific acts, the minimum term of imprisonment for this offense is increased to 25 years.

Texas does allow for a number of affirmative defenses in these cases that can mitigate or eliminate legal consequences in certain cases, but these are extremely specific—such as an alleged offender being a victim of family violence. Alleged offenders facing these charges should be sure to have knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys review their cases to determine whether they may be able to utilize such defenses.


Texas Injury to a Child Resources

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) — DFPS is the state agency responsible for investigating cases of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation involving children, elderly individuals, and disabled individuals. On this website, you can learn more about Child Protective Services (CPS), Adult Protective Services (APS), and related efforts of DFPS. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions, annual reports, and policies. The regional office in San Antonio is located at:

100 Dolorosa
Suite 3.05.9
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 224-1430

Texas Penal Code | Title 5, Chapter 22 — You can review the full text of the statute for injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual under Section 22.04 on this website. The subsections of the statute specifically discuss affirmative defenses and written notification requirements.


Find a Lawyer for Child Abuse in San Antonio, TX

Were you arrested for allegedly injuring a child or abusing a child in Texas? You will want to immediately contact skilled criminal defense attorneys in San Antonio.

Goldstein & Orr works tirelessly to help clients accused of violent offenses get charges reduced or completely dismissed. Call (210) 226-1463 or complete an online contact form right now to have our lawyers evaluate your case during a free consultation.

(210) 226-1463
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