Houston sex crimes attorney Matt Sharp explains Texas mandatory sexual offender registration requirements, your legal rights, and the deregistration process.
The state of Texas has some of the toughest sex crime laws in the country. When a person is convicted of a sexual offense, they are required to register as a sex offender.
Becoming the subject of a sex crime investigation is a very serious legal matter that can have lifelong consequences that impact a person’s employment, freedom and reputation in their community.
Those who are in trouble with the law often require the expert counsel and guidance of a Houston sex crimes defense lawyer.
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What is the Texas Sex Offender Registry?
One of the penalties for sex crimes in Houston includes being entered into Texas’ Public Sex Offender Registry. Since 1991, this registry has served as a database of personal information about every person who has been classified as a sex offender. In most cases, this information is permanently stored in the registry. The registry is public and searchable by anyone who wishes to view its contents.
The types of personal information that sex offenders must provide to local law enforcement — some of which is made available to the general public — include:
- A current photograph
- Name (and any aliases or nicknames)
- Birth date
- Height and weight
- Physical description (eye and hair color)
- Shoe size
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license number
- County of residence
- Zip code
- All phone numbers (work, home and cell)
Of course, being entered into the sex offender registry can have serious consequences for the people who are listed in this database. They may be unable to obtain certain jobs and be the subject of public shaming.
How does the sex offender registry work?
When someone is convicted of a sex crime, the consequences may include mandatory inclusion in the sex offender database. A convicted person’s information is entered into the database for the purposes of monitoring that individual. This monitoring is intended to prevent that person from entering into situations where they may commit another offense.
What’s the penalty for not registering as a sex offender?
Failure to comply with the registration requirements could result in parole violation. If this happens, an arrest warrant can be issued, parole could be revoked, and a jail or prison sentence could be immediately reinstated.
What are the different types of sex offenders?
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was passed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006. This law categorized sex offenders into three “tiers,” according to the severity of the crime they were convicted for.
- Tier 1: Individuals found guilty of the most minor sex offenses are required to update their registration every year, with a total of 15 years of registration.
- Tier 2: These offenders must update their location every 6 months, with a total 25 years of registration required.
- Tier 3: The most serious sex offenders must update their registration every 3 months and are registered for life.
How long do you have to register as a sex offender in Texas?
The length of time for which the registration period is valid can vary based on the nature of your offense. For some offenses, the defendant will be required to register for the next 10 years following their discharge from incarceration. Some of these offenses include indecent exposure, compelling prostitution, and online solicitation of a minor.
However, some convictions may result in mandatory lifetime registration. In fact, the crimes listed above may also lead to lifetime registration if they are repeat offenses or if they are committed along with another sexually-based offense.
What are the Texas sex offender registry requirements?
The list of crimes that require registration of sexual offenders has grown significantly in recent years. Even engaging in consensual sexual relations with someone under the age of 17 can result in a requirement to register with the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry. Offender registry may even be required if a defendant manages to avoid conviction but receives deferred adjudication instead.
Involvement in any of the following crimes could result in court-ordered registration:
- Continual sexual abuse of a child
- Indecent behavior with a child
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Promotion or possession of child pornography
- Solicitation of a minor over the Internet
- Statutory rape
Depending on the nature of the criminal charge, the applicable provisions of the Texas Penal Code, and whether the charge is a repeat offense, a person may be on the sex offender list for 10 years or for life. Mandated registration is not considered to be a criminal penalty under Texas law, so it can still be imposed at a later date if the law changes.
What is the registration process and offender monitoring period like?
After a person is convicted of a sexually-based offense, they may have to serve a sentence in jail or prison. Upon their release, they will typically be expected to report to a monitoring authority. In many cases, the monitoring authority is the local police department.
In Texas, anyone convicted of a sexual offense must report to the local police station within 7 days of being released from incarceration. They must report and deliver their:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of residence
Anyone in this situation who works at or attends a college or university must report this information to campus security at their school. They must also report all changes of address to the local police within 7 days.
Anyone registered as a sex offender who visits another area 3 or more times in one month, or visits for more than 48 hours, must report to the local police in that area.
Additionally, registered offenders must report to their local police office once every 30 days, 90 days or once per year. The reporting frequency is typically based on the nature of the offense.
Offenders must also obtain a yearly renewable Texas driver’s license or ID within 30 days of their release. They must annually renew this license for the remainder of their period of registration.
Who is eligible for sex offender deregistration in Texas?
Under Texas law, a person may be allowed to have their name removed from the public sex offender registry if they meet certain requirements. Although this doesn’t erase or expunge a criminal conviction from your record, it can help you move on with your life.
A court or judge is tasked with reviewing deregistration requests on a case-by-case basis. Only certain types of sex crime convictions qualify for deregistration. Violent crimes (or sex offenses that have been elevated to “aggravated”) are typically not eligible.
To qualify for deregistration, typically you must meet these requirements of the Texas deregistration program:
- You only have one sex crime conviction or deferred adjudication on your record.
- Your sex crime conviction fell under Texas law (not federal law or the law of another state).
- You successfully completed the Sex Offender Treatment Program.
- You have been examined by a professional and deemed to be at little or no risk to reoffend in the future.
- The amount of time you would have been required to register under federal law is less than under Texas law.
In general, sex crimes such as online solicitation of a minor, possession or promotion of child pornography, indecent exposure, unlawful restraint or compelling prostitution are eligible for deregistration. However, every case is evaluated on an individual basis, so it’s important to talk to a skilled sex crime defense attorney right away to find out if you’re eligible.
Why should you hire a sex crime defense lawyer?
Texas issues tough punishments for crimes of a sexual nature. On top of that, the process for deregistering as a sex offender is long and full of obstacles. For these reasons, it’s important to hire a good lawyer as soon as accusations are made or charges are filed. An attorney may be able to use evidence to show your innocence or point out flaws in the prosecution’s case.
For example, an attorney could argue that you’re not guilty of sexual assault by introducing evidence showing that you weren’t at the scene of the crime when the alleged victim claims to have been assaulted. Witness statements, receipts and camera footage may back up this strategy.
If the alleged victim is a child, the defense attorney may argue that children can be encouraged by adults to make false accusations. This may be especially important if defendant’s ex-spouse was seeking revenge or trying to obtain sole custody.
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Contact a Seasoned Sex Crimes Defense Attorney in Houston, TX
Sex offender registration can devastate a defendant’s personal and professional future. It’s well-known that countless Texans have been improperly accused and convicted of a sex crime. False sex crime accusations are quite common during divorce or child custody proceedings. An allegation of sexual impropriety is a common tactic for forcing a spouse or significant other out of the home. Some other reasons for erroneous allegations may include hiding involvement in an act of consensual sex, gaining financial advantage, confusion brought about by sex education classes or a desire for attention.
The accuser, witnesses and available evidence in a sex crime case must be aggressively investigated and challenged. Every effort should be made to avoid inclusion in a sex offender registry.
Facing a sex crime charge in Texas alone can be a tough road. Hiring a good attorney is the first step towards creating a strong legal defense. Contact the The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp today for your free, confidential consultation. We will fight to protect your rights and preserve your future.