Sex Offender Registration in Texas: Facts and Details
Sex offender registration is a punishment for certain criminal convictions in the state of Texas. The purpose of this registration is to prevent convicted sex offenders from committing additional violations. It is used as system to keep track of convicted sex offenders. It’s also a form of punishment because it restricts the freedom of the offender.
Sex offender registration is very serious and it is only applied in certain cases. In nearly all cases, this registration is ordered by a court for a person who has been convicted of one or more sexually-based crimes. This includes a large variety of offenses which will be explained in this article.
Sex Offender Registration Details
The actual registration process includes a lot of details but here are the basic facts:
- A person who is sentenced to registration must register immediately after being released from incarceration or when they are placed on parole
- A person who is not incarcerated must register withing 72 hours after being sentenced
- A convicted offender must register in the county of their residence as well as the county where they were sentenced
- A convicted offender must register his or her name, address, phone number, place of employment and other personal information
- Convicted offenders must meet with their supervising officer on a regular basis
- Convicted offenders must report any changes of address or any instances where they must leave the town or county for more than 24 hours
- Convicted offenders must abide by restrictions, including restrictions on where they are allowed to live, travel and work
Failing to abide by these rules can result in incarceration or additional prosecution.
Crimes Requiring Registration
A person may be ordered to register as a sex offender after a conviction for many different crimes. These crimes can include, but are not limited to:
- Sexual assault
- Indecency with a child
- Possession, promotion or distribution of child pornography
- Solicitation of prostitution
- Indecent exposure
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Sex with a minor under age 17
There are many other sexually-based offenses for which sex offender registration can be required. This is often determined on a case-by-case basis.
How and When Registration Is Ordered
When a person is convicted of a sexually-based offense, the judge may decide if sex offender registration is an appropriate punishment. While this is often left up to the discretion of a judge, certain factors may make it more likely that registration will be required:
- Repeat or continual sex crime convictions
- Sex crimes involving children
- Violent sex crimes or sex crimes which cause death
In these cases, a judge is much more likely to require sex offender registration upon conviction. However, in some cases, a judge may order sex offender registration for seemingly less serious actions.
For example, in the state of Texas, it is possible for a person to be ordered to register as a sex offender for indecent exposure. For example, if a person urinates in public and accidentally exposes their genitals to another person, they may be ordered to register. While this is uncommon, it can happen under the law.
Until recently, minors under age 17 could be required to register as sex offenders for engaging in sexual activity or sharing explicit photos with other minors, even if they were in a consensual relationship. Recent changes in the law have now created alternative punishments for these cases, making sex offender registration no longer mandatory for such actions. However, an adult aged 18 or over who has sex with or shares explicit images with a minor can be required to register, even if those actions were consensual.
How Long Does Sex Offender Registration Last?
In Texas, a person can be ordered to register as a sex offender for either a period of 10 years or for the duration of their life.
A person who is convicted of a sexually violent offense must register for life. This includes crimes like:
- Sexual assault
- Indecency with a child by contact
- Aggravated kidnapping for a sexual purpose
- Burglary that involved sexual assault
- Possession or promotion of child pornography
- Compelling prostitution by a minor
- Sexual performance by a child
A person may be sentenced to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years for less serious sex crimes that do not require lifetime registration, including:
- Second indecent exposure conviction
- Attempted sexual assault
Juveniles who are convicted of sex crimes are required to register for a 10-year period instead of lifetime registration.
Appeals, Exemptions and Expunctions
In some rare cases, Texas courts may allow people convicted of sex crimes to avoid the registration requirement. In some cases, this may happen with an exemption. In Texas, a person can request an exemption from registration if:
- The defendant is a juvenile
- The defendant received a conviction or deferred adjudication for sexual assault or indecency with a child
- The victim was a minor at least 15 or older and the defendant was no more than 4 years older than the victim at the time of the crime
- The activity was consensual
As with most criminal convictions, a person in Texas can appeal their sex crime conviction in an attempt to negate the registration requirement. If they can prove that they were convicted unfairly or that the prosecution or defense made a substantial error, they may be granted a new trial or have their conviction overturned. If their conviction is overturned and they are found not guilty, they may request an expunction. This will also negate the registration requirement.
Restrictions of Registration
A person who registers as a sex offender must abide by very strict rules.
For example, they must report to their supervisory officer on a regular basis. This may be on a monthly basis, every 90 days or annually. They must also report any changes in employment or address to their officer. They also may not be allowed to live, work or travel near an area frequented by children, such as schools, churches or parks.