How sex offender tiers are determined and what they mean
Being labeled as a sex offender or sexual predator is not something to take lightly. And while all offenders must register after they are released from prison, there are different sex offender levels for that registration. Understanding the different levels of sex offender registration is important for all Texas residents.
How are the tiers assigned?
An offender’s level of registration is determined by the court and (where it is deemed appropriate) the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or the Texas Youth Commission. The criteria for assigning a level of risk is set by the Risk Assessment Review Committee, which was established by the Department of Criminal Justice.
Using this criterion and a screening tool created by the Risk Assessment Review Committee, the courts and other necessary entities, based on circumstances and crimes involved, will assign a level of risk to each offender. This level of risk is entered into an offender’s profile and is visible with their registration as a sex offender.
What are the levels of sex offender registration in Texas?
Though most states have a similar system of assigning a level of offense to an offender, there are some minor differences among the various areas of the United States.
In Texas, there are 4 levels — or “tiers” — of sex offender registration that are based on risk levels to general society. Those who are found to be of higher risk of reoffending or are convicted of violent crimes are classified differently than those who commit minor sexual crimes.
The duration of registration is dependent on whether an offender is found to be a sexual predator or is convicted of a violent sexual crime. Offenders convicted of being a sexual predator or for violent sexual crimes are required to register for life. All other offenders must be registered sex offenders for 10 years, a timeframe that doesn’t begin until the offender is released from prison.
When a criminal is released from prison and registers as a sex offender, this information is publically visible on the Texas State Sex Offender Registry. Neighborhood residents can search their communities to find registered sex offenders living nearby. Some people may not find the risk acceptable even with level 1 offenders, so this information is made readily available to the public.
Tier 1: Low-risk offender
Offenders classified within this group are considered to pose a low danger risk to the general public. There is a low concern that they will engage in sexual misconduct or criminal sexual acts. Offenses that may result in a level 1 classification may include acts such as engaging in prostitution acts with a consenting adult or indecent exposure (i.e. public urination).
Tier 2: Moderate risk offender
These offenders have been found guilty of multiple minor criminal sexual acts repeatedly or have committed a more serious offense such as aggravated sexual assault or sex acts involving a minor. Level 2 offenders are considered a moderate danger to society and have typically served at least 1 year in prison.
Tier 3: High-risk offender
Considered a severe threat to society, level 3 sex offenders are highly likely to continue engaging in sexual misconduct and criminal acts. Frequently offenders in this category have committed violent sexual acts or have participated in kidnapping or human trafficking. Sexual acts with a child under the age of 12 will also qualify offenders for this level.
The “civil commitment” population
In rare cases, offenders of repeated violent sexual acts who have been diagnosed with a behavior abnormality that predisposes them to these acts will be classified with this designation. Law enforcement monitors these individuals closely as they undergo outpatient therapy and supervision.
When to contact a Houston sex crime defense attorney
Facing the criminal charges of a sexual crime has long-lasting ramifications that can seem impossible to take on by yourself. Individuals who choose to represent themselves face a greater risk of an unfavorable outcome, even if the charges are for low level (Tier 1) sex offenses.
If you have been accused of sexual misconduct and have been charged with a sex crime in the state of Texas, contact the Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp. Our team is standing by, ready to fight for your rights as a Texas citizen.