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Child Abuse

Despite the presumption of innocence inherent to our criminal justice system, most prosecutors, judges, and juries tend to take very harsh views of alleged offenders accused of abusing a child. As a result, a person charged with this crime might feel that they are presumed guilty before even stepping foot inside a courtroom.

Texas Family Code § 261.101 states that any person “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” with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Certain professionals who regularly have direct contact with children are required to file reports within 48 hours of first suspicion that a child has been or may be abused or neglected.

Fort Worth Child Abuse Defense Lawyer

Are you under investigation or have you already been arrested for alleged child abuse in North Central Texas? It is critical for you to refuse to speak to anybody about your case until you have legal representation.

The Fort Worth child abuse defense attorneys at Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC represent clients all over Tarrant County in communities such as Arlington and Fort Worth. The lawyers also represent clients in Weatherford and Cleburne as well as surrounding areas of Parker County and Johnson County. Call 817-502-3600 right now to set up a free consultation that will let our attorneys review your case.


Tarrant County Child Abuse Information Center


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Child Abuse and Neglect Definitions in Texas

A child is defined under Texas Penal Code § 22.04 as meaning a person 14 years of age or younger. Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code is dedicated to the investigation of report of child abuse or neglect.

Abuse is defined under Texas Family Code § 261.001(1) as including the following acts or omissions by a person:

  • Mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child's growth, development, or psychological functioning;

Causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child's growth, development, or psychological functioning;

  • Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm;
  • Failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child;
  • Sexual conduct harmful to a child's mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of continuous sexual abuse of young child or children, indecency with a child, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault;
  • Failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child;
  • Compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct, including conduct that constitutes an offense of trafficking of persons, prostitution, or compelling prostitution;
  • Causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene, or pornographic;
  • The current use by a person of a controlled substance, in a manner or to the extent that the use results in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child;
  • Causing, expressly permitting, or encouraging a child to use a controlled substance;
  • Causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a sexual performance by a child; or
  • Knowingly causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a child to be trafficked, or the failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent a child from being trafficked in a manner punishable as an offense under any of those sections.

Neglect is defined under Texas Family Code § 261.001(4) as including:

  • The leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intent not to return by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of the child;
  • The following acts or omissions by a person:
    • Placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child;
    • Failing to seek, obtain, or follow through with medical care for a child, with the failure resulting in or presenting a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury or with the failure resulting in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child;
    • The failure to provide a child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the child, excluding failure caused primarily by financial inability unless relief services had been offered and refused;
    • Placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of sexual conduct harmful to the child; or
    • Placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to acts or omissions that constitute abuse committed against another child; or
  • The failure by the person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare to permit the child to return to the child's home without arranging for the necessary care for the child after the child has been absent from the home for any reason, including having been in residential placement or having run away.

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Penalties for Child Abuse in Tarrant County

Punishments in child abuse cases depend on the classification of the alleged crimes. Texas Penal Code § 22.04 takes into account the extent of the injuries suffered by a child as well as the specific level of intent of the alleged offender.

Child abuse crimes are classified as follows:

  • State Jail Felony punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000 if an alleged offender recklessly or with criminal negligence causes bodily injury to a child;
  • Third-Degree Felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000 if an alleged offender intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a child;
  • Second-Degree Felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000 if an alleged offender recklessly causes serious bodily injury or serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury to a child; and
  • First-Degree Felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000 if an alleged offender intentionally or knowingly causes serious bodily injury or serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury to a child.

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Texas Child Abuse Resources

Alliance For Children — As a fully accredited member of the National Children's Alliance, Alliance For Children is a nonprofit organization that operates three children’s advocacy centers in Tarrant County. With locations in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Hurst, Alliance For Children has helped more than 46,000 children since 1992. On this website, you can learn more about the organization’s services, upcoming events, and report child abuse.

908 Southland Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76104
(817) 335-7172

ACH Child and Family Services — ACH is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect children in Ft Worth, TX, and the surrounding areas of Tarrant County from abuse, neglect and family separation and help children overcome these things when they do happen. Some of the services ACH provides include Assessment, Intervention and Referral Services (AIRS), Wedgwood Residential Program, and youth and family counseling. On this website, you can find answers to frequently asked questions, review annual reports, and apply for various programs.

3712 Wichita Street
Fort Worth, TX 76119
(817) 335-HOPE (4673)


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Find a Child Abuse Lawyer in Fort Worth, TX

If you have been arrested or believe you are under investigation for alleged child abuse, do not make any kind of statement to police without legal counsel. Even if you believe that you are the victim of false allegations, you do not want to say anything on the record that could be used against you later on.

Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC helps clients facing family violence charges in Fort Worth, Arlington, and surrounding areas in Tarrant County. Our Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys also serve Weatherford, Cleburne, and nearby communities in Parker County and Johnson County.

You can have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation as soon as you call 817-502-3600 or complete an online form.


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