Parents owe many duties to their children—to provide food and shelter, as well as education. But the duty to provide medical and dental care is just as important. When parents fail to provide this care and the child is hurt, then parents can face serious criminal charges.
Being a parent is difficult. In this stressful economic environment, many parents lack the resources to get their children the medical care they need. Please contact Tad Nelson & Associates if the state has alleged that you neglected your children. It is sometimes possible to get charges dismissed.
Texas Laws on Child Neglect
Section 151.001 of the Texas Family Code identifies the rights and duties of parents, one of which is the “duty to support the child,” including the duty to provide medical and dental care.
Texas Penal Code section 22.04 makes it a crime to cause bodily injury to a child, elderly person, or disabled individual if done intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence. You can be charged if your child is injured through an omission on your part, so long as you have a legal or statutory duty to act. As explained above, parents do have the legal duty to provide medical and dental care for their kids.
The law applies to injuries to children under age 14. You could even face charges if you are not the parent but assumed care or control of the child.
Penalties for Failing to Provide Care
The charges you face will depend on the injury your child suffers and your mental state.
Serious Bodily Injuries or Serious Mental Impairment
You could face first-degree felony charges if you acted intentionally or knowingly. For example, you might have known your child was badly hurt in an accident and known they needed immediate medical care. If you still refused to go, you can be charged with a first-degree felony and face up to 99 years or life in prison.
If you acted recklessly, then the offense is a second-degree felony. Recklessness is a less culpable mental state, and you could face up to 20 years in prison.
If you acted with criminal negligence, then you can face state jail felony charges, which can result in up to two years in state prison.
Less Serious Bodily Injuries
If your child’s injury isn’t serious, then you will likely face third-degree felony charges. That could result in a maximum of 10 years in prison.
However, if you acted with recklessness or criminal negligence, then you face state jail felony charges.
We Can Help
Many caring parents fail to get prompt medical care for a variety of legitimate reasons:
- You lack transportation to the hospital or dentist
- You can’t afford health insurance or dental care
- You are an undocumented migrant who doesn’t have access to health insurance
- Your child appeared fine
- You had to work and couldn’t take time off
Many parents are shocked when their child’s condition worsens to the point they need admission to a hospital. Then the social workers from Child Protective Services come in and start accusing you of neglecting your child. Please contact our experienced Houston criminal defense attorney.