As parents, we know that children are naturally curious about their sexuality. In these modern times, children are reaching the onset of puberty at a younger and younger age (girls as young as nine and boys as young as ten). Their curiosity leads to natural experimentation. Unfortunately, such experimentation sometimes conflicts with state laws, and children as young as ten can be arrested and charged with serious felony offenses such as aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual assault or indecency with a child.
Juvenile sex offenses, of course, can stem from other reasons. Children can be influenced to act out when they have been exposed to pornography or live sex. They will mimic the sexual behavior they have seen. And, of course, children who have been sexually abused will act out on those behaviors--sometimes years later. In such cases, it is very common that the child was abused at a young age by an older cousin, a babysitter, a coach or other such person close to the child. This prior abuse does not excuse the child's actions, but it is definitely mitigating. Without counseling and intervention, the child is likely to re-offend. If the child later re-offends as an adult, he could be facing a life sentence.
DIGNITY, EMPATHY AND COMPASSION
Houston Juvenile Sex Offense Lawyer Jim Sullivan is Board Certified in Juvenile Law. Juvenile Law is different than criminal law. Note: Among the more than 83,000 active lawyers in Texas, there are only 38 lawyers Board Certified in Juvenile Law and in private practice in the state of Texas.
Jim Sullivan can help you and your child get through this difficult ordeal with dignity, empathy and compassion. He is sensitive to the emotional and psychological needs of children. He has represented a number of juvenile boys and girls who themselves had been victimized at a young age and had not reported it to their parents or to the authorities. In fact, it was only through his sensitive, patient and thought-provoking conversation with the child that he was able to draw out the prior abuse.
Jim Sullivan will work hard to persuade the State to non-suit (dismiss) your child's case, to obtain an acquittal (not guilty) at trial or as a last result to negotiate a reasonable plea bargain. From the outset, he will work to have your child released from the detention center and then work toward keeping him or her at home and from having to register as a sex offender. In fact, not one of his juvenile clients has had to register as a sex offender. Such registration can be devastating to a child's development and to his or her future.
Jim Sullivan is an expert in the field of juvenile law and has successfully represented juveniles charged with sex offenses and other felony and misdemeanor offenses in Houston and throughout southeast Texas. He has a proven track record in juvenile sex offense representation and is truly concerned about the many juveniles who do not have competent legal representation.
CASE RESULTS - JUVENILE SEX OFFENSES
The case histories below represent a few of the many juveniles charged with sex offenses that Jim Sullivan has represented. All cases were in Harris County (Houston), except where noted. Past results are not a guarantee of a similar result in any future case.
|SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (2° Felony) in Fort Bend County||CASE DISMISSED (16 year old boy allegedly forced his girlfriend to have sex with him against her will)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY CONTACT (2° Felony) in Galveston County||CASE DISMISSED after completion of deferred prosecution (13 year old boy allegedly and inappropriately touched a girl while riding home on the school bus)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY CONTACT (2° Felony) in Montgomery County||CASE DISMISSED (13 year old boy allegedly touched his 5 year old niece in his bedroom. Thorough investigation by Sullivan within days of being hired was enough to persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the case before the first court setting)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY CONTACT (2° Felony) in Montgomery County||CASE DISMISSED (16 year old Client allegedly touched a female student inappropriately at his high school)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY CONTACT (2° Felony) in Montgomery County||CASE DISMISSED (Client allegedly abused a fellow student at his high school. The case was dismissed before the third court setting.)|
|AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1° Felony) in Montgomery County||CASE DISMISSED (Sullivan persuaded the State to dismiss his 16 year old client’s felony sex offense. Sullivan's client has Asperger’s Syndrome and was accused of raping his 14 year old male cousin during a sleepover. Law enforcement failed to interview the accused’s parents, failed to visit the alleged crime scene and failed to investigate the complainant’s father, a registered sex offender with a lengthy history of abusing children, as a possible perpetrator. Before Sullivan could set the case on the trial docket, the State did the right thing and dismissed the case prior to the second court setting)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY CONTACT (2° Felony)||CASE DISMISSED (Sullivan persuaded the State to dismiss his 12 year old client’s felony case upon successful completion of juvenile sex offender counseling. The boy was accused of fondling a two year old girl)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY CONTACT (2° Felony) in Montgomery County||CASE DISMISSED (Sullivan persuaded the State to dismiss his 11 year old client’s felony cases upon completion of a boundary counseling program. Sullivan's client was accused of fondling two students against their will on the school bus)|
|AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1° Felony) in Harris County||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR Indecent Exposure with 2 years of probation at home (Client allegedly abused his younger sibling)|
|AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1° Felony) in Jackson County||PRIVATE PLACEMENT at Pegasus School for 9-12 months of sex offender counseling and then probation at home without sex offender registration (Client abused his younger brother over a one year period. Probation Department originally recommended placement at TJJD, formerly known as TYC)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (2° Felony) in Fort Bend County||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR Assault with no disposition (Client fondled his 12 year old younger sister when he was 14. Case was resolved after client finished sex offender counseling)|
|AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1° Felony) in Harris County||JURY TRIAL: NOT GUILTY (15 year old client was accused of abusing his 2½ year old niece and her 4 year old brother was an alleged eyewitness. Niece did have injuries documented in a medical examination, but a thorough defense investigation uncovered severe credibility issues with the children and their mother, the outcry witness, and other reasonable explanations for the injuries were not investigated by law enforcement)|
|AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1° Felony) in Brazoria County (Angleton)||CASE REDUCED TO ENTICING A CHILD (3° felony) with probation at home (13 year old client was originally accused of sexually abusing a 6 year old stepsister. With the reduction, client can never be made to register as a sex offender)|
|MOTION TO DE-REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER in Harris County||MOTION GRANTED (Client was ordered to register as a sex offender when he was represented by other counsel. Sullivan persuaded the court to allow his soon to be 18 year old client to de-register so that he could attend Texas A&M)|
|MOTION TO REVOKE PROBATION (INDECENCY WITH A CHILD)(2°) in Fort Bend County (Richmond)||MOTION TO REVOKE PROBATION DISMISSED (Client was re-instated on probation at home)|
|POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY (2° Felony) in Harris County||CASE DISMISSED IN ADULT COURT AND RE-FILED IN JUVENILE COURT (Client's case was first filed in the 176th Criminal District Court as an adult case. Sullivan persuaded the First Assistant D.A. to dismiss and re-file the case in Juvenile Court, thereby avoiding registration for a lifetime as a sex offender. Instead, Sullivan's client did not have to register at all and received probation at home. The federal government knew about the child pornography when the client was 16, but did not execute search warrant until one week after his 17th birthday. This rare event was only possible because Sullivan understands criminal and juvenile law and persuaded the DA's office to do the right thing before the child turned 18, the time when the juvenile system would have lost jurisdiction. An average criminal lawyer would have just negotiated an adult probation for the 17 year old offender and he would have been marked as a sex offender for life)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY CONTACT (2° Felony) in Harris County||CASE DISMISSED AT JURY TRIAL SETTING (Sullivan represented a 13 year old boy accused of fondling a 12 year old girl against her will at school. Prior to the dismissal, the State offered a one year of probation at home, however the boy would have had to wait until he was 19 in order to seal his record. With the dismissal, Sullivan's client could petition to have his record sealed immediately)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (2° Felony) in Fort Bend County (Richmond)||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR Assault with 6 months of probation at home (Client was accused of touching a younger child)|
|SEXUAL ASSAULT (3° Felony) in Harris County||CASE DISMISSED ON JURY TRIAL SETTING (Sullivan represented a 16 year old boy accused of raping a 17 year old girl at her home. After a lengthy investigation, Sullivan was able to cast doubt on the credibility of his accuser in several ways, including the fact that his client did attend football practice at the time that his accuser claimed that he had followed her home and raped her)|
|AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1° Felony) and INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (2° Felony) in Harris County||CASES REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR Assault on Jury Trial setting (Sullivan represented a 16 year old boy accused of molesting his 6 year old half-sister. After a thorough investigation of the home environment, Sullivan was able to show that–if the girl had been molested–the stepfather, a convicted drug user, was the likely perpetrator)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (2° Felony) in Harris County||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR Assault on Jury Trial setting (Sullivan represented a 14 year old boy accused of touching a 13 year old girl against her will behind the bleachers in the school gymnasium. After interviewing several eyewitnesses and taking photos of the scene, Sullivan was able to cast doubt on the girl’s version of events)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (2° Felony) in Harris County||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR Indecent Exposure on Jury Trial setting (Sullivan represented a 14 year old boy accused of fondling a younger child)|
|AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1° Felony) in Harris County||CASE DISMISSED ON JURY TRIAL SETTING (Sullivans' client, a 15 year old boy, was accused of having consensual sex with a 12 year old girl in her bedroom while two teenage friends allegedly listened in the adjoining room)|
|AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD (1° Felony) in Harris County||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR Indecent Exposure (Sullivan represented a 15 year old boy accused of abusing his 6 year old sister)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (2° Felony) in Harris County||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR Assault prior to Jury Trial Setting (Sullivan represented a 14 year old boy accused along with two other teenage boys of fondling a 13 year old girl at school against her will)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (2° Felony) in Harris County||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR assault on Jury Trial Setting (Sullivan represented a 15 year old boy accused of allowing a 6 year girl to fondle him in his bedroom. The mothers of the two children were in the livingroom at the time. The case was on the trial docket for almost two years. Right before his client's 18th birthday, the government offered a misdemeanor with probation for two weeks)|
|INDECENCY WITH A CHILD (2° Felony) in Harris County||CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR assault (Sullivan represented a 14 year old boy accused of fondling a 7 year old boy outside at their apartment complex)|
POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF JUVENILE SEX OFFENSES:
DISCRETIONARY TRANSFER TO CRIMINAL COURT
An Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child offense is a first degree felony. If the juvenile is 14 years of age or older at the time of the alleged offense, the State can seek to have the juvenile transferred to criminal court and stand trial as an adult. In adult court, the range of punishment is from five years to life in prison.
Indecency with a Child can be either a second or third degree felony. If the juvenile is 15 years of age or older at the time of the alleged offense, the State can seek to have the juvenile transferred to criminal court and stand trial as an adult. In adult court, the range of punishment is from 2 years to 10 or 20 years in prison.
Instead of a transfer to criminal court, the State can also seek a Determinate Sentence for a juvenile aged 10 years or older for a juvenile felony sex offense. If this were to happen, a juvenile could never seal his juvenile record. He could be placed on probation for up to 10 years with automatic transfer to adult probation at age 18. He could also be sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (former known as Texas Youth Commission) for up to 40 years for a first degree felony, up to 20 years for a second degree felony and up to 10 years for a third degree felony. If sent to TJJD and to be eligible for parole, he first has to stay a minimum of 3 calendar years for a first degree felony, 2 calendar years for a second degree felony and 1 calendar year for a third degree felony. If the juvenile does not parole out by age 19, then he is automatically transferred to adult prison, although depending on his behavior he could be transferred as early as age 16.
Instead of the severe consequences of a transfer to adult court or determinate sentence, the State can proceed with an Indeterminate Sentence. In such a case, the juvenile could petition the court to seal his record at age 19 as long as he is not required to register as a sex offender. Also, the juvenile could receive probation until age 18. As a condition of probation, he could be placed outside his home for sex offender counseling and treatment. He could also be sent to TJJD where he could be held until age 19. In most of his negotiated cases, Jim Sullivan has been able to reach an agreement with the State for his client to receive Indeterminate Sentence probation at home for two years, the minimum statutory required length of probation for a felony sex offense.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION
The Judge can also order the juvenile to register as a sex offender until age 28. The defense attorney may be able to persuade the State to agree to defer registration, i.e. the Judge will make the decision regarding sex offender registration after the juvenile completes his or her sex offender counseling. Jim Sullivan has been successful in his cases to either defer the registration decision or to not require the juvenile to register at all.
DE-REGISTRATION – EXCUSING SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION
Jim Sullivan has also been successful in persuading juvenile courts to allow juveniles to be excused from further sex offender registration that would otherwise be required by Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. A juvenile ordered to register as a sex offender only has two chances to request de-registration as a sex offender. Therefore, it is important to retain an attorney experienced in the process. Ideally, it is better to request de-registration prior to the juvenile's 18th birthday when he would otherwise have to begin registering as an adult until age 28. However, the juvenile can still request de-registration even after having reached age 18 or older. If you or your child were ordered to register as a sex offender by a juvenile court and want to be excused from further registration or if your child is charged with a sex offense, then call Jim Sullivan at 281-546-6428. He can help you and he wants to hear from you.