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Am I Going to Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

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Sex Offender Registration in Texas

In the state of Texas, and throughout the United States, a conviction for certain criminal offenses can cause a person to be placed on the sex offender registry. When a person is required to register as a sex offender, their registration may remain active for years. In some cases, the length of the registration period is for the duration of the defendant’s life.

However, this is not always the case. There are exceptions that may apply in certain cases and only several specific offenses are punished with mandatory registration. Learning more about this process can help people understand what happens in cases where sex offender registration may apply.

What Crimes Lead to Sex Offender Registration?

As stated above, mandatory sex offender registration is only used as a punishment in very specific circumstances. Of course, this punishment is usually applied in cases involving sexually-based offenses. However, in some instances, a person may be required to register as a sex offender even if they did not actually commit a sex crime.

Some offenses that can typically lead to sex offender registration include:

  • Rape
  • Possession or distribution of child pornography
  • Public indecency
  • Voyeurism
  • Coercing sexual activity
  • Sexual activity between a person with power or authority over the victim

It is also a criminal offense to plan to carry out any of these actions or attempt to commit them. Sex offender registration may be applied in cases where the defendant committed another crime for the purpose of committing a sex crime. For example, a person who kidnaps a minor for sexual purposes can be required to register, even if they did not actually commit a sexual assault.

Types of Sex Offender Registration

When someone is required to register as a sex offender, the terms of their registration will depend on the nature and severity of their crime. Serious violations will lead to more serious registration terms. In most cases, the registration term will begin as soon as the convicted person is released from incarceration and placed onto parole.

Registrants are typically required to follow restrictions while on parole. For example, they are often required to:

  • Avoid certain areas, such as schools and places where children congregate
  • Avoid using the Internet
  • Avoid certain types of employment, like teaching and child care
  • Meet with their parole officer regularly
  • Inform their officer of any address changes
  • Inform their officer of any plans to leave town for more than 24 hours

There are different levels of registration, known as tiers. There are three primary tiers and each tier has different registration requirements. The tiers can be broken down as follows:

  • Tier 1 – Usually used in non-violent cases involving adults
  • Tier 2 – Usually used in non-violent cases involving minors
  • Tier 3 – Usually used in violent cases

A person on Tier 1 registration is usually required to register for a period of 15 years. They must verify their address and personal information once a year.

Tier 2 registration is given for a minimum of 25 years. They must verify their information twice a year.

Tier 3 registration is the most serious level. It is given in life terms and registrants must verify every three months.

Sex Offender Registration Exceptions

In certain cases, a person who is charged with a sexually-based offense may be allowed to avoid the registration requirement. This is usually applied in so-called “Romeo and Juliet” cases. Many states, including Texas, have enacted Romeo and Juliet laws to protect young people from the negative effects of sex offender registration.

These cases usually involve a young couple who engages in sexual intercourse. Typically, one partner in the relationship will be over the age of 18 while the other partner is a minor. Usually, it is a serious offense for adults to have sexual contact with minors and sex offender registration is a common punishment. However, if the oldest person in the relationship is no more than three years older than the younger partner, and if no partner is aged 14 or younger, the sex offender registration requirement may be dropped. Criminal charges may still apply, but mandatory registration is usually avoided in these cases.

Anyone who has been charged with a sexually-based offense can consult with an attorney to discuss defense options. The lawyer may be able to provide advice and guidance about the best way to construct a legal defense.

Attorney Brett A. Podolsky can help protect your rights if you have been arrested for a sex crime. Let him get you the justice you deserve. Contact his office today at (713) 227-0087.

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