Every state in the country is required to abide by the rulings of Megan’s Law. One of the major portions of this law is the requirement for each state to maintain an accurate and up-to-date registry of all convicted sex offenders who reside in that state. This registry must contain updated information on each sex offender, including their name, physical characteristics, residence or address and the crimes for which they have been convicted.
The law is intended to protect people from being re-victimized by convicted sexual offenders. Texas, like all states, enforces Megan’s Law and all of the conditions that accompany it.
History of the Law
Megan’s Law was enacted in the aftermath of a horrific crime. In 1994, seven-year-old Megan Kanka was lured into the home of her neighbor, a man named Jesse Timmendequas. When Megan was inside the house, Timmendequas sexually assaulted and murdered her.
The crime was especially heinous because Jesse Timmendequas had two previous convictions for sexual offenses involving children. Megan Kanka’s parents had no idea that the man who lived across the street was a convicted child predator. Megan’s parents led an effort to create more strict reporting requirements for people convicted of sexually based offenses. These reporting requirements are the basis of the Megan’s Law provisions.
The Law in Texas
As in other states, Texas uses the requirements of Megan’s Law to inform the public about the identity and whereabouts of convicted sexual offenders. This is accomplished in a variety of ways, including:
- Mandatory registration of convicted sexual offenders
- Maintaining a publicly accessible database of these individuals
- Requiring convicted offenders to report and update their information
- Notifying residents when an offender moves into their area
Texas state law requires people convicted of sexually based offenses to register with a statewide and national database. This can include registering their name, photo, home address and the nature of their conviction. This information must be kept current at all times. In most cases, all changes of address must be immediately reported and an offender who leaves his or her place of residence for an extended period of time must report their absence.
Additionally, convicted offenders are not allowed to travel in certain areas. This may include schools, daycare centers or any location where children might be present. Violating any of these provisions or failing to report their information may cause convicted sex offenders to face additional felony charges.
In some cases, law enforcement will notify people when a sex offender moves into their neighborhood. This is usually done by mailing information about the offender’s appearance, address and convictions to all nearby residents. People are also free to search the publicly available sex offender registry to learn the names, addresses and convictions of offenders who may live in their area.
A person who is required to register in the sex offender database in Texas must usually do so for ten years or for life. In some cases, a defense attorney may try to fight charges in a sexually based case in order to prevent this registration for their client. With the right kind of evidence and testimony, a defense attorney may be able to avoid a conviction entirely or have their client plead guilty to a lesser offense that does not require registration.
This is very important because sex offender registration may ruin a person’s life. Sex offender registration can cause loss of employment, loss of eligibility for certain jobs and intense public shame. Anyone who has been charged with a sexually based offense can consult a lawyer for advice about preparing a strong legal defense.
Have you or someone you know been accused of sexual abuse of a child? Ensure that your rights are protected by hiring Brett A. Podolsky, a tough, smart attorney who fights for his clients. Contact his office today at (713) 227-0087.