Texas laws are concerned with protecting the health and safety of residents and visitors. This is especially true in matters involving children. As such, if someone causes injury to a child, they face severe punishments. The offense is a felony of varying degrees, which means a conviction may result in lengthy prison time and high fines. Before delving into the circumstances that may lead to each degree of charge and the potential penalties, we'll first look at what Texas law prohibits.
Defining Injury to a Child
Texas Penal Code 22.04 provides that it's illegal to cause injury to a child by act or omission. What this means is that if someone physically contacts a child or engages in some type of behavior that could result in injury to the child, they are committing a crime. Likewise, the individual may be charged if they failed to do something to stop harm from being caused to the child, meaning they didn't act at all.
Under the law, a child is anyone 14 years of age or younger.
Types of Harm Caused
The law concerning injury to a child is specific in the kinds of harm caused.
An act or omission may be considered a crime if it results in:
- Serious bodily injury: This is a type of harm that puts a child at substantial risk of death. It may also cause physical impairment or the loss of a limb or organ.
- Bodily injury: This is defined as causing pain, illness, or impairment of a physical condition.
- Serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury: This would be causing some type of emotional or psychological harm.
Culpable States of Mind
For the prosecution to prove that a person, by act or omission, caused injury to a child, they must show that the defendant was in a certain state of mind at the time of the offense.
If a parent, guardian, or someone who has taken care or custody of a child causes injury, for them to have committed a crime, they must have acted (or failed to act):
- Intentionally: Their objective was to engage in the alleged conduct.
- Knowingly: They were aware of the type of conduct they were engaging in or the result that would ensue.
- Recklessly: They knew the consequences of their actions (or inactions) and engaged in them regardless.
- Criminally negligent: They should have known the risks of their behavior or the results that would ensue.
Potential Conviction Penalties for Injury to a Child
As mentioned earlier, in Texas, injury to a child is a felony.
The degree to which it's charged depends on the specifics of the circumstances and include:
- State jail felony: This is levied when a person recklessly causes bodily injury or when they are criminally negligent and cause any harm to the child. A conviction may lead to up to 2 years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-degree felony: If a person intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury, they'll be charged at this degree. If they're found guilty, they could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and/or fined up to $10,000.
- Second-degree felony: If the accused recklessly caused serious bodily injury or mental impairment, they could face this degree of charge and up to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-degree felony: When the act or omission was done intentionally or knowingly, and it resulted in serious bodily injury or impairment, the potential penalties include up to 99 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
If you've been accused of a crime in San Antonio, contact LaHood Norton Law Group at (210) 801-9400 to discuss your case and legal options. Our criminal defense lawyers will provide the aggressive representation you need to fight your charge.