Texas Sex Offender Laws
Posted in sex crimes on December 11, 2018
Many types of criminal offenses can lead to sex offender registry. It is crucial to recognize the sex offender laws that apply to any relevant case. Failure to comply with registration requirements can lead to increased legal penalties and a lengthier registration requirement. Failure to adhere to these regulations may also increase the time before an individual may deregister from the state sex offender registry.
The sex offender laws in Texas exist to inform the public of known sex offenders and protect them from victimization. Sex offender registry laws also place several restrictions on registered offenders to prevent them from living in, working in, or visiting places where they may be likely to commit sex offenses. For example, a person convicted of a sexual crime in Texas against a child will likely face a complete ban on any type of employment in any school or childcare settings and will likely need to find a residence away from local schools, daycare centers, or playgrounds.
Local-Level Laws for Sex Offenders in Texas
Every local jurisdiction in Texas maintains sex offender registry information to protect the public and track known offenders. In some cases, these jurisdictions may publicly publish sex offender information or create publicly accessible databases for local residents to check on known local sex offenders. Most local law enforcement agencies will send out community warnings by mail if a known high-risk sex offender moves into the area. These warnings usually contain information for alleging complaints, best practices, and other useful information for residents in the area.
Changes to Sex Offender Laws
In recent years, there have been many changes to sex offender registry laws at the state and federal levels. For example, several previously convicted sex offenders in Texas who had taken plea deals in exchange for deregistration after a set amount of time learned that new laws required them to register for life.
Texas laws have evolved over time with an emphasis on public safety, requiring people who have committed heinous sex offenses to register for increasingly longer periods of time or permanently depending on individual case details. Some argue that these changes unfairly affect those who accepted plea deals under previous laws, but lawmakers justifiably argue that public safety and preventing more victims of sex crimes trumps the personal freedoms of convicted sex offenders.
How long do you have to register as a sex offender in Texas?
Texas law requires some offenders who commit serious sex crimes to register as sex offenders for life. Others who committed less serious offenses may need to register for ten years or more, and still others may need to register for individually assigned time periods based on their assessed levels of personal risk in the eyes of the court.
The Texas Sex Offender Registration Program requires all convicted sex offenders to register with their local police departments as a condition of probation. It is crucial for anyone required to register to do so as soon as possible. Failure to comply with a requirement to register as a sex offender can lead to a revocation of probation and possibly even jail time and additional penalties.
Who Needs to File for Sex Offender Registration?
Texas law requires individuals to register as sex offenders if they meet specific criteria. Firstly, anyone with a reportable adjudication or conviction must register as required by law. Anyone who received parole or probation contingent upon sex offender registration must also register. Some offenders must register as a condition of community-level supervision, and extra-jurisdictional registrants must also register in Texas for qualifying offenses. The Texas Department of Public Safety will determine if an individual’s out-of-state adjudications or convictions qualify for sex offender registration in Texas.
Restrictions and Regulations For Registered Sex Offenders in Texas
The requirement to register as a sex offender can have profound effects on the offender’s life, but it is important to remember that these terms and conditions intend to preserve public safety and discourage repeat offenses.
- Travel restriction. Some registered sex offenders may need to remain in a specific location or secure special permission to travel outside of their home states.
- Residency restriction. Many sex offenders face limited options for housing. They may need to reside a certain distance from schools, daycares, parks, and playgrounds.
- Community event restrictions. Many sex offenders will not have permission to participate in community events as either organizers or participants.
- Employment restrictions. Most sex offenders will face employment restrictions that bar them from certain jobs. Some professional licensing boards will not grant licenses to convicted sex offenders.
- Internet access. Sex offenders who committed digital crimes such as downloading and sharing digital child pornography may face a ban on the creation of social media profiles or may have to forgo internet access entirely.
- Contact with minors. A sex offender who committed a crime against a child may need to find alternative housing arrangements if living with family members would mean living with children in the house.
- Voting restriction. A convicted sex offender who committed a felony sex offense may lose his or her voting rights until the completion of his or her probation or registry requirement.
- Firearm ownership. Texas law demands that anyone convicted of a felony loses his or her Second Amendment right to own and bear arms. This ban lifts five years after completing the full sentence for a felony conviction.
Understanding Your Rights in Terms of Sex Offender Registry in Texas
There have been many changes in recent years to the sex offender registration laws in Texas. It is vital for anyone with a sex offense record to know his or her rights and obligations under these laws. Some people who had convictions from decades ago may mistakenly believe they are now free from registration, but this is not the case. Texas law is very clear on the timeframes that apply to sex offender registration.
For example, if an individual had adjudication or conviction for a prior offense that occurred on or after September 1, 1970, then he or she only needed to register if the person was in the registration system on or after September 1, 1997. However, a change to the law occurred on September 1, 2005 that required anyone with an adjudication or conviction on or after September 1, 1970 to register regardless of whether he or she was in the registration system as of September 1, 1997.
A defense attorney can help a convicted sex offender understand his or her rights and responsibilities under Texas law. For individuals who received registration requirements on an individual basis, an attorney may be able to help these individuals resolve issues with their sex offender registration requirements.