Child Support
Criminal Nonsupport Handbook


Sample of Criminal Nonsupport Jury Charge

CHARGE OF THE COURT

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury:

The defendant, [ ], stands charged by indictment [or information] with the offense of criminal nonsupport, alleged to have been committed in County, Texas, on or about the day of , 20__. To this charge the defendant has pleaded not guilty. You are instructed that the law applicable to this case is as follows:

I.

An individual commits the offense of criminal nonsupport if he intentionally or knowingly fails to provide support for his child younger than 18 years, or for his child who is the subject of a court order requiring the individual to support his child.

"Child" includes a child born out of wedlock whose paternity has been admitted by the defendant or has been established in a civil suit.

II.

A person acts intentionally, or with intent, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to a result of his conduct when it is his conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result.

A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to circumstances surrounding his conduct when he is aware of the nature of his conduct or that the circumstances exist. A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to a result of his conduct when he is aware that his conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result.

III.

Now bearing in mind the foregoing instructions, if you believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant, [ ], on or about the day of , 20 , in the County of , and State of Texas, as alleged in the indictment [or information], did then and there intentionally or knowingly fail to provide support for [ ] his child younger than 18 years [or the said [ ] did then and intentionally and knowingly fail to provide support for [ ], his child, who was the subject of a court order requiring the said [ ] to support the said [ ], you will find the defendant guilty of the offense of criminal nonsupport and so say by your verdict, but if you do not so believe, or if you have a reasonable doubt thereof, you will acquit the defendant and say by your verdict "Not Guilty."

IV.

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for criminal nonsupport that the defendant could not provide the support that he was legally obligated to provide.

The burden of proof is on the defendant to prove an affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence. The term "preponderance of the evidence" means the greater weight of credible evidence.

Now, therefore, if you find and believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did commit the offense of criminal nonsupport as alleged in the indictment [or information], but you further find by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant could not provide the support, if any, that he was legally obligated to provide, you will acquit the defendant and say by your verdict "Not Guilty."

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Revised: May 06 2010