What is Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child?
In Texas, Penal Code Section 21.02 creates a special crime of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child if it is proven that a person committed two or more acts of sexual abuse during a period of more than 30 days in duration. Acts of sexual Abuse include any of the following violations of the Texas Penal Code that involve a child:
- Sexual Assault of a Child;
- Indecency of a Child;
- Sexual Performance by a Child;
- Compelling Prostitution;
- Burglary or Aggravated Kidnapping if committed with sexual intent.
The Danger of a Continuous Sexual Abuse Charge
Punishment is ratcheted up upon proof of acts outside of the 30 day range. The punishment range for Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child is from 25 years in prison to Life. Parole is limited for this crime.
The Trend Away from the Rules of Evidence
Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child is part of a trend to limit the Rules of Evidence prohibition against extraneous offenses. More than twenty years ago, it was a proper objection under TRE 401 when a prosecutor attempted to offer evidence of a sexual act other than the one charged. The argument was that proof that the accused committed a sexual act, even with the same complainant, was trying him for an uncharged event. The appellate courts attempted to change this rule but their reasoning was clumsy. Ultimately, the State legislatures changed the rules to allow for extraneous acts with the same complainant. Now, with Continuous Sexual Abuse all acts are essentially admissible so long as proof is provided that the acts occurred outside the 30 day period. This is true even if the acts are against different children.
We have seen more and more cases that would have been originally pled as Aggravated Sexual Assault now filed as Continuous cases. The trend is unmistakeable and the reasoning obvious. Prosecutors can guarantee punishment at no less than 25 years for a conviction and no longer have to worry about the admissibility of all extraneous offenses.
If you, or a loved one, has been charged with this offense it is vital that you obtain the best possible representation. Few lawyers have the experience and knowledge to try these cases. At Chernoff Law we have 27 years of defending people accused of sex acts against children. We can help you.