SAN ANTONIO -- The Bexar County District attorney is proposing legislation to increase punishment for people who are caught abusing children, seniors and the disabled.
"It is critical to protect the most vulnerable in our community; to send a message that these classes of individuals will not be overlooked," District Attorney Nico LaHood said.
LaHood's proposal would make several changes to penal code chapter 22.04. The punishment would be upgraded from a third-degree felony (five years to life in prison) to a first-degree felony (15 years to life in prison). LaHood's proposal would also mean that anyone who abuses a child under 6-years-old, regardless of serious bodily injury, could face up to life in prison.
At Wednesday’s press conference, LaHood pointed to a child abuse case earlier this year in northeast Bexar County. Investigators found two toddlers chained up in a backyard. The charges were upgraded from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony but the same can't be done for other cases.
"That case of that 2-year-old I mentioned in my speech. He was burned in the genital and buttock area. His injuries unfortunately, medically, didn't rise to serious bodily injury. The jury was left to punish only 10 years, but they wanted to punish more," LaHood said.
As the 85th legislative session approaches, LaHood hopes he garners the support from state leaders to pass the legislation.
"I've reached out across both aisles, Republican and Democrat,” he said. “This is not a political issue. This is a people issue. Someone needs to sponsor this in the house and also in the senate."
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, 225th District Court Judge Peter Sakai, state and local leaders joined LaHood at the press conference.