Is Child Abuse Illegal in Texas?

Parenting is no easy task and it’s not something that we learn about in high school or college. More often than not, it’s something we learn from our own parents. And for some parents, discipline took the form of spanking and other types of “physical punishment” when they were children, so it’s the only form of parenting that they know.

As recent as the 1950s and 1960s, child abuse wasn’t much of a thing. When parents physically punished their children, people looked the other way. What was a family’s business, stayed their business but much has changed since then. Now, when a parent is physical and they cause physical injuries to their child, they commit family abuse, which is known as domestic violence in other states.

When Child Abuse is Illegal

Is child abuse a crime? In Texas, it is a crime but what counts as child abuse exactly? Under Texas law, child abuse and spousal abuse are criminalized under the state’s assault and aggravated assault statutes.

Assault for example, is criminalized under Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code and it involves intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to someone, including one’s child. Assault is typically a Class A misdemeanor, but when it’s committed against a spouse or a child, it’s a felony of the third degree.

A parent commits “aggravated assault” when they cause serious bodily injury to their child, or use or exhibit a deadly weapon while assaulting their child. Aggravated assault is charged as a felony of the first or second degree depending on the facts of the case.

  • A third-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and by a $10,000 fine.
  • A second-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and by a $10,000 fine.
  • A first-degree felony is punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison or life, and by a $10,000 fine.

If a parent is found guilty of assault or aggravated assault for child abuse, they can face many years behind bars. If the parent is an immigrant, they can face removal (deportation) proceedings because domestic violence is a deportable offense under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Facing child abuse charges in Plano, Dallas or Fort Worth? Contact our firm to explore your legal options.

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