Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual: Texas Penal Code §32.53

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you “improperly” or “illegally” used a child, elderly person, or disabled person or their resources for personal benefit or gain.

Perhaps the biggest problem with this law is that there is no explanation as to what “improper” use of an elderly person means. It’s wide open to interpretation. One person’s belief as to what is improper might not be the same as the next person’s.

Have you been charged with Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual? Book a consultation to discuss legal representation with attorneys Paul Saputo and Nicholas Toufexis today.

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The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 32.53. The law was not updated in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since it was enacted in 2011.

The Penal Code classifies the Texas Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual law under Title 7 “Offenses Against Property,” Chapter 32 “Fraud.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual below.

What is the current Texas law about Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual?

Texas law currently defines the offense of Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual in Penal Code Section §32.53 as follows:[1]

(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes the exploitation of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual.

What is the definition of "exploitation" under this law?

The word "Exploitation" is defined under this law to mean the "illegal or improper use of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual or of the resources of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain."[2]

How can I be charged with an Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 32.53(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual in Texas?

Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual has a seven year limitations period under Texas law.[3]

The limitations period for Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual was extended to 7 years, effective September 1, 2017, in the 85th Texas Legislature.[4]

What is the penalty for a Texas Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual offense?

A conviction for Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual is punished as a felony of the third degree,[5] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years.

Can you get probation for Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[6]

Note, however, that no matter the offense, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for any suspended sentence of over 10 years.[7] Also, judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[8]

What level of crime is Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies the punishment for Exploitation of Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual as a third degree felony.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §32.53. This law is current as of 2024.^2. Texas Penal Code §32.53(a)(2)^3. Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(3)(H)^4. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 12.01(2)(H), as amended by Senate Bill 998, Section 1, effective September 1, 2017^5. Texas Penal Code §32.53(c)^6. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^7. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^8. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure


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