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How Do You Become a Sex Offender?

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Sex Offender Crimes in Texas

In Texas, the law requires some people who are convicted of certain sexually-based offenses to register as a sex offender. These crimes that have a sex offender registration requirement vary widely and the type of registration that is required can vary as well. Despite what some people believe, committing a sexual assault is not the only way to be sentenced to mandatory sex offender registration. Also, sex offender registration is not always a lifelong requirement.

The list of crimes that can potentially carry a sentence of sex offender registration is quite long. Knowing more about the crimes on this list may help people accused of sexually-based offenses make smarter decisions about their legal defense.

How Is Sex Offender Registration Assigned?

Sex offender registration is a legal program that is used not only to punish convicted offenders, but also to monitor their whereabouts to deter any future offenses. In most cases, sex offender registration is assigned as a punishment for cases involving some type of sexual assault or sexually-based offense. For example, some of the crimes for which sex offender registration can be assigned in Texas include:

  • Sexual assault (rape)
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Kidnapping of a minor
  • Incest
  • Indecent exposure

Sex offender registration can be mandated on a case-by-case basis when a jury finds a defendant guilty of a sexually-based offense. Upon reaching a guilty verdict, the presiding judge can then determine if sex offender registration is appropriate for that particular case. If he or she finds registration necessary, the defendant will be ordered to undergo this registration immediately upon their release from incarceration or as a condition of probation.

Lengths of Registration

A person who has been convicted of certain offenses can be ordered to register as a sex offender for a certain length of time. This length of time is determined based on the relative severity of a particular offense. This length of time can also vary based on whether or not the defendant is convicted of a state crime or a federal crime.

For those who are convicted in the state of Texas and are sentenced to sex offender registration, there are two registration periods that are commonly used:

  • 10 years from the date of release from incarceration
  • The remainder of the person’s life

For example, a person who is convicted of unlawful restraint or kidnapping for sexual purposes of a person under 17 years of age can be ordered to serve a period of sex offender registration that is 10 years in length.

In Texas, a person who is convicted of human trafficking or continuous sexual abuse of a child can be ordered to register as a sex offender for the remainder of their life.

This is slightly different from the federal sex offender registration system. For most state crimes that require sex offender registration, a convicted person is not necessarily required to register with the federal system. However, certain offenses require sex offender registration at the federal level.

For example, a person who is convicted of human trafficking may be required to register as a federal sex offender for 15 or 25 years, based on the severity of their actions. A conviction for continuous sexual abuse of a child can lead to a registration period of 25 years in the federal system.

Legal Considerations

In certain cases, a person may be required to register as a sex offender after a conviction for a crime that may seem less serious than sexual assault or human trafficking. For example, in Texas, a young man named Tony Washington was ordered to register as a sexual offender after it was discovered that he had a consensual sexual relationship with his sister when they were both teenagers. Even though the sex was consensual, Texas law lists incest as crime that can be punished with sex offender registration.

As a result, Tony Washington was barred from a potentially promising career in the NFL and was forced to sign up with a football team in Canada.

Sex offender registration can have a devastating effect on a person’s future, including job prospects and relationships. It is possible to fight sexually-based charges in court with the help of an experienced defense attorney. With the right kind of evidence and persuasive arguments, a defense attorney may be able to help their client avoid the lifelong stigma of mandatory sex offender registration. In some cases, they may be able to arrange a plea deal with the court or even have their client’s charges dropped entirely.


If you or someone you know if being charged with any form of sex crimes, now is the time to retain a legal defense. Attorney Brett A. Podolsky has the experience need to help. Contact his office today at 713-227-0087.

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