Learning that your child has been charged with a sex crime can be a heart-wrenching experience. As a parent, your first instinct is to protect your child, and facing such a serious situation can be overwhelming. In Texas, juvenile sex offenses include a range of activities that are considered illegal for minors. Some of those offenses are classified as felonies, and a conviction can potentially derail your child’s life, affecting their future opportunities, reputation, and freedom. But it’s important to remember that being charged does not mean your child is guilty. Below, there’s a lot you can learn about the specific offenses, the potential penalties, how to defend against these charges, and the legal process for juveniles. Most importantly, you’ll learn how a criminal defense lawyer can help. This information can be key in making informed decisions about your child’s case. Keep reading to understand more about juvenile sex offenses in Texas and how you can best support and protect your child during this challenging time.

Texas Juvenile Sex Offense Attorney

If your child has been charged with a juvenile sex offense, you might feel worried and unsure about what to do next. It’s important for you to know that these charges are serious and can affect your child’s future in a big way. But, there’s help available. At Price & Twine, PLLC, we understand how tough this situation is for you and your child. You can talk to us about your child’s legal rights and what steps you can and should take next. We’re here to support you and offer meaningful guidance during this difficult time. For a consultation with a lawyer with experience in juvenile sex offenses, please call Price & Twine, PLLC by calling (512) 354-1880 or contact us online. Our team is ready to help you explore the best options for your child.

Specific Sex Crimes In Texas

Sexual Assault by a Juvenile | Rape – Texas Penal Code Section 22.011

In Texas, if a juvenile sexually assaults someone, it means they’ve engaged in a sexual act without the other person’s consent. This includes actions like sexual penetration or causing sexual contact. In this state, it’s usually a second-degree felony, but can be a first-degree felony in certain situations.

Statutory Rape by a Juvenile– Texas Penal Code Section 22.011

Statutory rape by a juvenile in Texas occurs when a person under 17 years old intentionally or knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who is also a child, regardless of consent. This offense is generally considered a second-degree felony. However, there’s an important exception: if the person accused is no more than three years older than the other child, and both are at least 14 years old, and neither is required to register as a sex offender, then this can be an affirmative defense to prosecution (a way to avoid facing charges).

Indecent Assault by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 22.012

If a juvenile touches someone in a sexual way without their consent, such as touching their private parts, or makes them touch theirs, or if they expose themselves or the other person, this constitutes indecent assault. This act is classified as a Class A misdemeanor.

Aggravated Sexual Assault by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 22.021

Aggravated sexual assault in Texas is where a juvenile forces someone into a sexual act against their will, especially in serious situations like using a weapon or causing injury. This crime is a first-degree felony, especially if the victim is very young or if the crime is violent.

Prohibited Sexual Conduct by a Juvenile | Incest – Texas Penal Code Section 25.02

Prohibited sexual conduct is where a juvenile has sexual contact with certain family members, like their siblings, step-siblings, or ancestors. This type of behavior is generally a third-degree felony. However, if the sexual conduct is with a direct ancestor or descendant, like a parent or child, it’s considered even more serious and is classified as a second-degree felony.

Indecency With a Child by a Juvenile | Molestation – Texas Penal Code Section 21.11

Indecency with a child in Texas refers to situations where a juvenile engages in sexual contact with a child younger than 17, or exposes themselves or the child for sexual arousal. This can include touching in a sexual manner or making the child touch the offender. If a juvenile engages in sexual contact, it’s a second-degree felony. If they’re exposing themselves or the child, it’s a third-degree felony. However, it is a defense to prosecution if the juvenile is not more than three years older than the victim and of the opposite sex.

Indecent Exposure by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 21.08

Indecent exposure by a juvenile occurs when a young person shows their private parts or backside with the goal to excite or please someone sexually, without caring if it upsets or shocks others who see it. This act is treated as a Class B misdemeanor.

Public Lewdness by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 21.07

Public lewdness involves a juvenile knowingly doing sexual acts in public, or in private but without concern if others are around who might be upset or shocked by these acts. This behavior is classified as a Class A misdemeanor under Texas law.

Invasive Visual Recording by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 21.15

Invasive visual recording occurs when a juvenile records or shares images of someone’s private areas, like genitals or breasts, without their permission, especially in places where privacy is expected like bathrooms or changing rooms. This act is considered a state jail felony in Texas.

Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material by a Juvenile | Revenge Porn  – Texas Penal Code Section 21.16

Unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material happens when a juvenile shares or promotes pictures or videos showing another person’s private parts or them involved in sexual acts without their consent, intending to harm them. This behavior is classified as a state jail felony in Texas.

Sexual Performance by a Child – Texas Penal Code Section 43.25

According to Texas law, sexual performance by a child involves any show or presentation that includes sexual acts done by someone under 18 years old. If the child involved is under 14, the charge is a first-degree felony; otherwise, it’s a second-degree felony. However, there is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the defendant is not more than two years older than the child.

Voyeurism by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 21.17

Voyeurism in Texas is when a juvenile watches someone without their permission in a private place, intending to get sexual pleasure. If a juvenile is caught doing this, it is usually treated as a Class C misdemeanor, which is a less serious offense. However, if the juvenile has done this more than once, it becomes a Class B misdemeanor. If the person being watched is under 14 years old, then the crime is more serious and is considered a state jail felony.

Electronic Transmission of Certain Visual Material Depicting Minor | Sexting by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 43.261

Sexting happens when a juvenile in Texas sends or has electronic images showing someone under 18, including themselves, in sexual situations. This is typically a Class C misdemeanor, but it can be more serious if the juvenile has done this before or meant to upset someone. If they have previous convictions, it can be a Class B or even a Class A misdemeanor. However, there’s a defense available: if the people in the images were in a dating relationship and close in age (no more than two years apart), or if they were married at the time, it might not be considered a crime.

Obscenity by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 43.23

Obscenity in Texas refers to a juvenile knowingly promoting or having materials or devices that are considered obscene. Generally, this type of offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the obscene material involves images of someone under 18, or looks like it does, the offense can be more serious and be charged as a felony of the second degree. There is a defense available for those possessing or promoting such material for legitimate reasons like medical, psychiatric, or legal purposes.

Possession or Promotion of Lewd Visual Material Depicting a Child – Texas Penal Code Section 43.262

Possession or promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child is when someone knowingly has, tries to view, or shares pictures or videos showing inappropriate images of a child under 18. For a juvenile, this offense is normally treated as a state jail felony. If the juvenile has done something similar before, the charge can be more serious – a third-degree felony for one past offense, and a second-degree felony if there have been two or more past offenses. It doesn’t matter if the child in the image agreed to be in it; it’s still illegal.

Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography by a Juvenile – Texas Penal Code Section 43.26

Possession or promotion of child pornography involves a juvenile knowingly having or trying to view, or sharing images or videos that show a child under 18 in sexual situations. This crime is typically a third-degree felony. However, if the juvenile has been convicted of this before, it can become a second-degree felony for one prior conviction, and a first-degree felony for two or more prior convictions. However, there is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the juvenile is not more than two years older than the other child.

Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor – Texas Penal Code Section 43.24

Sale, distribution, or display of harmful material to a minor means a juvenile is involved in selling, sharing, or showing content that is sexually explicit or offensive to minors. This offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor generally, but it becomes a third-degree felony if a juvenile involves another minor in these activities.

Obscene Display or Distribution – Texas Penal Code Section 43.22

Obscene display or distribution occurs when a juvenile intentionally shows or shares obscene images or materials without considering if it might offend or alarm others. If a juvenile commits this offense, it is classified as a Class C misdemeanor.

Online Solicitation of a Minor – Texas Penal Code Section 33.021

Online solicitation of a minor involves someone 17 years or older using the internet, email, text, or other electronic means to engage in sexually explicit communication with, or share sexually explicit material to, someone under 17 years old. Juveniles in Texas cannot be charged with this offense.

Stalking – Texas Penal Code Section 42.072

Stalking occurs when a juvenile repeatedly and intentionally engages in behavior that is directed at someone else and is seen as threatening, causing fear of harm or offense. This offense is classified as a third-degree felony but can escalate to a second-degree felony if the person has a prior conviction for stalking or a similar offense.

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child or Disabled Individual – Texas Penal Code Section 21.02

Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or disabled individual happens when a person, over a period of 30 days or more, commits two or more acts of sexual abuse against a child under 14 years old or a disabled person. This crime is considered a first-degree felony in Texas. However, there is an important defense for juveniles: if the person accused is no more than five years older than the youngest victim, did not use force or threats, and is not a registered sex offender or has a past conviction for a similar offense, they might not be held responsible under this law.

Sexual Coercion – Texas Penal Code Section 21.18

Sexual coercion involves a juvenile intentionally threatening to commit certain offenses to gain sexual favors, intimate visuals, or other benefits. This act is classified as a state jail felony in Texas. However, if the person has been previously convicted of this offense, it becomes a third-degree felony, leading to harsher penalties.

Potential Consequences in Juvenile Sex Crime Cases

In Texas, when a juvenile (an individual under the age of 17) is charged with a sex offense, the approach to sentencing is distinct from that of adults, with a greater emphasis on rehabilitation. The severity of the offense, the juvenile’s age, their past record, and case specifics are important factors in determining the sentence. More severe crimes like sexual assault often lead to stricter sentences, and the treatment of the juvenile can vary significantly based on their age and history of behavior.

Common outcomes in juvenile sex offense cases in Texas include probation, where the juvenile remains at home but must comply with certain rules and possibly attend counseling or other programs. The terms and duration of probation vary depending on the individual case. In instances where the offense is more serious, the juvenile may be sent to a detention center. The length of stay in these centers depends on several factors, including the nature of the offense. The court may also mandate participation in treatment programs aimed at behavioral change and understanding the offense’s impact.

For particularly serious offenses, there is a possibility for a juvenile to be tried as an adult, a decision typically reserved for older juveniles involved in very serious crimes. This scenario means they face the same potential sentences as adults, including prison time, but those cases are rare and considered a last resort.

The relationship between the victim and the accused, particularly if it involves a younger victim or abuse of trust, is also a significant consideration, potentially leading to harsher sentencing. Additionally, the court evaluates the impact of the crime on the victim and the community, which influences both the sentence type and its duration.

“Determinate sentencing” in Texas allows for set sentences for certain serious offenses, with maximum sentences up to 40 years depending on the crime’s severity. Under this system, juveniles initially serve their sentence in a Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) facility, with a review before their 18th birthday to determine subsequent steps, including potential release on parole, discharge, or transfer to adult prison.

Juveniles under determinate sentencing must be discharged from TYC supervision by their 19th birthday or transferred to adult parole supervision. The list of offenses eligible for determinate sentences has expanded over the years to include attempted sexual assault, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault.

In TJJD, there are two main types of commitments: indeterminate and determinate. Indeterminate commitments allow juveniles to stay in TJJD custody until their 19th birthday, contingent on their eligibility for early release based on treatment progress. The minimum length of stay for indeterminate commitments is determined by the offense’s severity and the juvenile’s risk to the community, factoring in past behavior.

Each case is unique, and the final decision rests with the judge, who must balance the law, the specifics of the case, and the best interests of both the juvenile and society. The overarching goals are rehabilitation, preventing future offenses, accountability, and ensuring public safety.

Potential Defenses in Juvenile Sex Offense Cases

In Texas, juveniles facing sex offense charges often have certain defenses available, depending on the nature of the charge.

Consent and Age Proximity

In certain cases, a key defense can be the age proximity between the juvenile and the alleged victim. For example, in a statutory rape case, if the accused is no more than three years older than the victim, both are at least 14 years old, and neither is required to register as a sex offender, this can serve as a defense against prosecution. In cases like sexual performance by a child or possession of child pornography, if the defendant is not more than two years older than the child involved, this can be an affirmative defense.

Lack of Knowledge or Intent

For many offenses, such as possession or promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child, the prosecution must prove the juvenile knowingly committed the offense. If the juvenile did not know the content was illegal or did not intend to commit a crime, this could be a defense.

Sexting and Relationship Exceptions

In cases of sexting, if the individuals involved were in a dating relationship and close in age (no more than two years apart) or married, it might not be considered a crime. Additionally, if a juvenile receives images but does not keep them, they might not be charged.

Legitimate Purpose Defense in Obscenity Cases

For charges like obscenity, a defense is available if the material was possessed or promoted for legitimate reasons, such as for medical, psychiatric, or legal purposes.

Mental State and Coercion

In some cases, the mental state of the juvenile or circumstances of coercion or manipulation can be important. For instance, if a juvenile was coerced into committing an act, this could be used in their defense.

Mistake of Fact

In certain circumstances, if a juvenile reasonably believed a fact that, if true, would make their action legal, this can be a defense. For example, if they mistakenly believed the age of the other person was higher.

Lack of Willful Intent in Public Lewdness and Indecent Exposure

In certain cases, such as with public lewdness or indecent exposure charges, demonstrating that the act was not willfully intended to offend or shock can be a defense.

Criminal Process for Juveniles Facing Sex Offense Charges

In Texas, when a juvenile is investigated or charged with a sex offense, they encounter a legal process that differs significantly from the adult criminal system. A better understanding of each step can help in preparing for what lies ahead.

Initial Contact and Investigation

The case begins when law enforcement becomes aware of a potential sex offense involving a juvenile. This could arise from a report, a victim’s complaint, or other sources. Officers investigate these claims to gather evidence. If they find enough proof, they may take the juvenile into custody.

Detention and the Detention Hearing

If detained, the juvenile is taken to a juvenile detention center. Here, their immediate safety and the safety of others are the primary concerns. Within two business days, a detention hearing is held. A judge reviews the case to decide whether the juvenile should remain in detention or be released until the next court date. This decision hinges on several factors: the severity of the alleged offense, the juvenile’s history, the likelihood of them fleeing, and the potential danger to the community.

Formal Charging Process

Following the investigation, if the authorities believe the juvenile committed the offense, formal charges are filed through a document called a “petition.” This petition outlines the specific sex offense allegations. It’s the juvenile system’s version of criminal charges in adult court.

Certification as an Adult (Certification Hearing)

In cases involving serious sex offenses, the state may seek to try the juvenile as an adult. This decision is made at a certification hearing. The court considers the offense’s seriousness, the juvenile’s age and maturity, their criminal background, and their potential to benefit from rehabilitative programs in the juvenile system. If the court opts for adult certification, the case transitions to the adult criminal court.

Adjudication Hearing (Juvenile Trial)

Should the case remain in juvenile court, it proceeds to an adjudication hearing, similar to a trial in adult court. However, a key difference is the absence of a jury; a judge makes all determinations. During this hearing, the judge examines the evidence presented by both the prosecution and defense. The judge’s role is to establish whether the juvenile is responsible for the alleged offense.

Disposition Hearing (Sentencing)

If the judge finds the juvenile responsible for the sex offense, the next phase is the disposition hearing, equivalent to sentencing in adult court. Here, the judge decides the appropriate course of action, which may include probation, placement in a juvenile facility, or other rehabilitative measures. The focus is on correcting behavior and rehabilitation, rather than merely imposing punishment.

Sex Offender Registration Implications

In certain scenarios, juveniles might be required to register as sex offenders. This decision is contingent on the nature of the offense and the judge’s discretion. The state’s laws determine who must register and for how long. Typically, serious offenses require lifelong registration. However, in less severe cases, juveniles might only need to register for 10 years, starting from their release from jail, completion of probation, or case dismissal, whichever occurs last. Failing to comply with registration requirements can lead to additional legal problems.

There are instances where a juvenile might not need to register. Courts evaluate each case to decide if registration is necessary for public safety. If they determine that registration isn’t beneficial and could harm the juvenile or their family, the court may exempt them from this obligation. This decision is made during a special hearing. Juveniles who are already registered can request to be removed from the registry or to keep their registration confidential, following certain guidelines. Additionally, juveniles who were required to register due to offenses in other states but now reside in Texas can petition a Texas court for a way out of registration. If a juvenile or their attorney disagrees with a registration decision, they have the right to appeal, seeking a higher court’s review of the matter.

Sealing of Juvenile Records

An important aspect of the juvenile justice process is the potential for sealing the juvenile’s records. Sealed records are not accessible to the public, which can be crucial for the juvenile’s future, allowing them a chance to move past their offense without the stigma of a criminal record. However, eligibility for record sealing is not guaranteed in all cases.

Rehabilitation and Aftercare

The juvenile justice system in Texas places a strong emphasis on rehabilitation. After the disposition, juveniles often receive access to counseling, educational programs, and other resources aimed at helping them reintegrate into society as responsible individuals. The success of these programs lies in their ability to address the underlying issues that led to the offense and to equip juveniles with the skills needed for a productive future.

Rights of Juveniles

Juveniles in Texas have specific rights within the legal system, particularly when facing serious charges such as sex offenses. These rights are important for ensuring fair treatment and due process. From the onset of their detention, juveniles have the right to legal representation. The attorney defends the juvenile’s interests, advises them, and ensures their rights are protected throughout the legal proceedings. Equally important is the right to remain silent, especially during police interrogations. This right allows juveniles to avoid self-incrimination and stresses the importance of waiting for legal counsel before answering questions.

Upon being taken into custody, juveniles also have the right to make at least one phone call, typically to their parents or guardians. This communication is essential for informing their family of their situation and getting initial support. Another fundamental right is the right to a speedy trial, which ensures that their case is heard without unnecessary delays.

During the adjudication hearing, juveniles also have the right to confront witnesses against them. This right allows them to see, hear, and challenge the testimony of those who may be accusing them of the offense. The privacy of juvenile records is another important right. These records are generally more protected than adult criminal records, safeguarding the juvenile’s future opportunities for education and employment. Lastly, if a juvenile is found responsible for a sex offense, they have the right to appeal the decision. An appeal provides an opportunity to challenge the legal basis of the judgment or the fairness of the proceedings.

Role of Parents

Parents or guardians in juvenile sex crime cases have a major part in the process. Their involvement includes emotional and moral support, advocacy for their child’s rights and best interests, participation in legal proceedings, decision-making, ensuring compliance with court orders, and getting necessary resources for their child. Parents might be required to attend hearings, provide information or testimony, make crucial decisions such as selecting a lawyer, and ensure that their child complies with conditions like house arrest or probation terms. They are also responsible for helping their child deal with the emotional fallout of a sex offense charge.

Role of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

When a juvenile is charged with a sex offense, a criminal defense lawyer plays a major role in guiding and supporting both the juvenile and their family through the legal process. The lawyer’s primary job is to ensure that the juvenile’s legal rights are protected at every step. This includes making sure that the juvenile understands the charges against them and the potential consequences. The lawyer will also be present during any questioning by law enforcement to ensure that the juvenile’s rights are not violated.

A big part of the lawyer’s role is to gather and review all the evidence in the case. This involves examining police reports, witness statements, and any other relevant information. The lawyer will assess this evidence to develop a strategy for the case. It’s important to note that while the lawyer will handle the legal aspects of the case, they will also consider the juvenile’s personal circumstances, such as their age, mental health, and family situation.

The lawyer will represent the juvenile in court, advocating on their behalf. They will present the case to the judge or jury, challenging any evidence that is unfair or unlawfully obtained. The lawyer will also negotiate with prosecutors, possibly to reduce charges or to reach a plea agreement if that is in the best interest of the juvenile.

Another key aspect of a criminal defense lawyer’s role is to provide guidance on the potential outcomes of the case. This includes explaining the legal process, possible penalties, and any alternative options available under the juvenile justice system, such as diversion programs or probation. The lawyer will also advise on the long-term consequences of a juvenile sex offense charge, including the impact on the juvenile’s future education and employment opportunities.

Throughout the process, the lawyer serves as a source of support and information for both the juvenile and their family. They can help the family understand the legal proceedings and what to expect, providing reassurance during a challenging time. The lawyer’s goal is to achieve the best possible outcome for the juvenile, focusing on rehabilitation and the juvenile’s future well-being.


Texas Penal Code – View the Texas Penal Code to learn more about specific sex crimes on the books in the state of Texas, including what is required for a prosecutor to prove an individual guilty of a crime.

Sex Offender Registration Requirements – View Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to learn more about sex offender registration for juveniles, including the legal process involved for registration and consequences for failing to comply with registration requirements.

Texas Juvenile Justice Department – View TJJD’s website to learn more about the criminal process for juveniles who are charged with sex crimes in the state of Texas, including how the state determines sentencing and values rehabilitation over incarceration for juveniles.

Texas Juvenile Sex Offender Lawyer

If your child has been charged with a juvenile sex offense in Texas, you’re likely feeling worried and unsure about what to do next. It’s important to understand that these charges are serious and can have long-lasting effects on your child’s life. But remember, you’re not alone in this. At Price & Twine, PLLC, we’re here to help you and your child get through this difficult time. You need clear information about your child’s legal rights and the options available. That’s why we encourage you to reach out to us for a consultation. When you contact Price & Twine, PLLC, you’ll be speaking with an experienced team that understands the challenges you’re facing and is ready to fight for your child’s future. Don’t wait to get the help you need. Call us today at (512) 354-1880 or contact us online for a consultation.