Texas Laws on Child Abuse


Reporting Child Abuse

Mandated Reporting

Texas Family Code

261.101 Persons required to report

A person (everyone) having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter. This requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, and an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services. The identity of the reporter is confidential and may only be released by order of court or to law enforcement agency conducting a criminal investigation.

Texas Family Code

261.103 Report made to appropriate agency

A report shall be made to: any local or state law enforcement agency; Child Protective Services if the alleged or suspected abuse involves a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child; the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred; or the agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of children.

Texas Family Code

261.104 Contents of report

Person making report shall identify, if known:

name and address of child; name and address of person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of child; and any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect.

Texas Family Code

261.106 Immunities

Persons acting under good faith who reports or assists in the investigation of a report of alleged child abuse or neglect or who testifies or otherwise participates in a judicial proceeding arising from a report, petition, or investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

Texas Family Code
261.107 False report
A person commits an offense if the person knowingly makes a report under this chapter that the person knows is false or lacks factual foundation. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail and/or $4,000 fine).

Texas Family Code
261.109 Failure to report
A person commits an offense if the person has cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect and knowingly fails to report as provided in this chapter. The offense is a Class B misdemeanor (up to 180 days in jail and/or $2,000 fine).

Child Outcry Statements

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 38.072

Hearsay statement of child abuse victim
Statements of a child under the age of 13 who is a victim of sexual offenses or assaultive offenses made to the first person 18 years of age or older are an exception to hearsay rule and that person can testify directly as to what the child said to them.

Privileged Communications

Civil

Texas Family Code
261.202 Privileged Communication
In a proceeding regarding the abuse or neglect of a child, evidence may not be excluded on the ground of privileged communication except in the case of communications between an attorney and client.

Criminal

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 38.10 Exceptions to spousal privilege
The privilege of a person’s spouse not to be called as a witness for the state does not apply in any proceeding in which the person is charged with a crime committed against the person’s spouse, a minor child, or a member of the household of either spouse.

Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence 503 and 505

The privileged communications afforded by attorney/client and clergyman/ client relationships applies to criminal prosecutions except as noted in the Texas Family Code 261.101 (initial reporting).

Statute of Limitations

None –
murder/manslaughter

10 years past child’s 18th birthday –
aggravated sexual assault of a child
sexual assault of a child
indecency with a child by contact

10 years- indecency with a child by exposure

  • All persons are
    required by law to report child abuse.

  • The report can be made
    to law enforcement, Child Protective Services, or the agency regulating the
    facility where the abuse is occurring.

  • Report should contain
    name/address of child and caregiver as well as information regarding the
    abuse.

  • Information about the
    reporting person is confidential except if ordered by court or to aid law
    enforcement in their investigation.

  • Persons reporting in
    good faith are immune from civil or criminal punishment.

  • Persons making
    intentional false reports can be punished criminally.

  • Persons failing to
    make a report can be punished criminally.

  • Hearsay (statement
    made by another person) is usually not admissible in court. In cases
    where a child is a victim under 13, the first person the child told about
    the abuse 18 or over can testify to the hearsay statement.

  • There is no privileged
    communication in civil child abuse cases except for statements to your
    attorney.

  • The only privileged
    communication in a criminal child abuse case is those to your attorney and
    your clergyman.

  • A spouse or other
    family member can be compelled to testify against anyone.

  • The time that a person
    can be charged after committing sexual abuse of a child is up to 28 years
    except in cases of child death in which case there is no set time to bring
    charges after the commission of the offense.

source: ATCCAC Home Page

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One response to “Texas Laws on Child Abuse

  1. I was watching Animal Cops in Houston, and I found it interesting that while the system fails to protect children, fails to uphold its own laws, animals have alot of rights and protection under the law.

    I saw this rancher loose custody of his starving horse, one pregnant, because of “neglect” and endangerment to the unborn foal. People who abuse animals may be fined or prosecuted–sometimes they are lectured and condemned in court by judges. The standard of proving animal abuse seems to be much lower than proving child abuse–wih harsher penalties. Past history is often considered in proving animal abuse while humans who abuse children are often given multiple chances to “change” or simply given the benefit of the doubt. Photos of injuries and testimony of witnesses is often all the “proof” required to prove animal abuse. And animals have human advocates willing to fight for them, not to mention homes willing to take them in and specially trained doctors willing to provide medical care. They even have behaviorists who work with traumatized animals to help them heal, and become re-socialized.

    Compare that to the countless cases of child abuse, where photos, testimony and past history of abuse is not enough “proof” to ensure the protection of the child or even the protection of the law. If a human has a past conviction of animal abuse, he is likely to loose his pet if caught or alleged of abuse again. If a person is convicted of child abuse, they stand a good chance of having their own rights protected to the detriment of the child. People with criminal history, addiction history, history of violence/abuse and other problems that should raise red flags are too often given a pass by the system to be placed in situations where they work with children, care for children and often gain custody of children. Children are too often given the message of “no one will believe you” when they speak up about abuse. Photos and testimony may not be enough to protect a child. Or a mother may not be believed when allegations of abuse arise because she is falsely accused of being mentally ill or some other crockpot theory (like parental alienation syndrome). Very clearly the system protects its own interests while putting the interests of the child, who it is supposed to protect, as the lowest priority.

    I applaud all those people who truly care, and are working hard to help our children. These such people are rare, or in hiding out of fear of the courts and the system itself. Our children deserve to be loved and protected–it shouldn’t be that the laws provide more for an animal.

    Like

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