Sexual Abuse Charges – Blog 5: Indecency With a Child by Contact

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

There is too much ground to cover in blogging about the technical, practical, and the defense of sexual abuse charges to do the topic justice in just a hand-full of articles.  This is why I’ve chopped up the topic into a series and today I’m writing about the technical aspects of the Texas Law on Indecency with a child by contact.

What is Indecency by Contact?

Indecency by contact occurs where the actor either knowingly or intentionally – with the intent to arouse any person – makes actual “sexual contact with a child.”

Indecency is codified in Tex.Pen.C. 21.11.  Section (c) deals with the lynchpin of indecency with a child by contact by defining “sexual contact”:

(c) In this section, “sexual contact” means the following acts, if committed with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person:

(1) any touching by a person, including touching through clothing, of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a child; or

(2) any touching of any part of the body of a child, including touching through clothing, with the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a person.

Unlike sexual assault of a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and “super” aggravated sexual assault of a child, though, Indecency by contact requires intent to “arouse or gratify.”

This is probably because the legislature understood when drafting the sexual assault charges – certain types of sexual contact (i.e. genital to genital or mouth to genital) a judge or jury could automatically infer the intent of the actor was to “arouse or gratify” based on the type of contact alone.

With indecency by contact, however, the legislature probably understood without adding the language that “sexual contact” includes the intent to arouse or gratify – they could potentially criminalize potentially routine, inadvertent, or innocuous contact between adults and children such as when a child gives a bear-hug to her grandma or a parent bathes their child.

Punishment for Indecency By Contact

Indecency by Contact is a 2nd Degree felony punishable between 2 and 20 years in the Texas prisons. Probation and deferred adjudication are possible depending on the person’s criminal history.  It requires lifetime sex offender registration.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

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