Few crimes are as stigmatized, or taken as seriously, in society as crimes against children. After all, children are innocent, and adults are supposed to work to keep them safe – but that doesn’t always happen.
A 2-year-old boy was recently injured in Kerrville, Texas, and his head injuries resulted in his death – a death that has now been ruled a homicide. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that cases like this two-year-old’s happen more often than you may think, too.
Abuse accounts for roughly 59 percent of the injuries children are admitted to the hospital. Around 23 percent of injuries are accidental, which does to show that accidents can and do happen when caring for children, even things as serious as head injuries.
In Texas, child injury law is taken very seriously and you can be charged with abuse even if none occurred just due to the nature of a child’s injuries. When that happens, it’s crucial to understand what injury to a child means in Texas and what you could face if convicted.
Texas Law: Injury to a Child
The Texas law contains many distinct offenses under injury to a child. This is an offense you can be convicted of if you intentionally, recklessly, by omission, or knowingly cause injury to a child.
An injury is defined in this law as bodily or mental injury, impairment, or deficiency. You can also be convicted under the law of this crime if you owe a duty of care to the injured child and you fail to act, therefore causing them to suffer an injury.
Under this statute, a child is considered anyone under the age of 14.
Penalties for Injury to a Child in Texas
If you are convicted of injury to a child, then you can face some serious penalties. Of course, it depends on the circumstances of the crime determined in court. If you caused serious bodily injury to a child knowingly, then that’s a first-degree felony. The penalties for a first-degree felony include a prison sentence of life.
If you are found guilty due to negligent or reckless behavior, that is a second-degree felony. It is punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Bodily injury caused to a child because of criminal negligence is considered a state jail felony in Texas. That can be punished by up to $10,000 in fines and 24 months in jail.
Head Injury Cases
Many cases of injury to a child involve head trauma. The problem is that head trauma can be a difficult injury to determine the cause.
While everyone is innocent until proven guilty under the law, most head injury cases, up to 60 percent, are due to child abuse. Therefore, if you’re in the 40 percent that isn’t, it can be a hard road to make your case of an accident.
Head injuries can occur in many different ways and the things you say over the course of an investigation can cause problems for you later.
If a child sustains a head injury in your care, then it’s important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer before you speak to investigators simply due to the fact that head injuries are so often at the center of child abuse cases and are traumatic for everyone involved.
Injury to a child is a serious matter, so know your rights.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth. He has been recognized for his work by Expertise (Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Forth Worth and Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, both 2020), The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.