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Relating to the prosecution of and punishment for the criminal offense of failure to report certain sexual offenses committed against a child; increasing criminal penalties.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 568 would expand the criminal offense of failure to report the aggravated sexual assault of a child to include failure to report other sexual offenses against a child, including trafficking, sexual abuse, indecency, and compelled prostitution. Adults would be permitted to report such an offense to the Department of Family and Protective Services rather than law enforcement. SB 568 would create certain enhancements for raising the category of this type of offense from a Class A misdemeanor to different degrees of felonies.
A person would be considered as having knowledge of a sexual offense against a child if the child tells them about it or the person attempts to hinder an investigation.
Texas Action is cautiously neutral on SB 568. If a person has knowledge of any of these crimes, and refuses or fails to notify, that is a serious offense to which the proposed punishments are not necessarily disproportionate. However we do have some discomfort with the idea that a person is presumed to have knowledge of an offense against a child simply because they have been told by a child that the offense occurred. This may be overly broad by requiring people to notify about allegations they reasonably believe to be baseless. An amendment to provide for such an exception is worth considering.