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Your Guide to Sex Offender Restrictions in Texas

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Were you convicted of a sex crime? Are you required to register as a sex offender after your prison sentence? You’re not alone. It’s estimated that over 740,000 registered sex offenders reside within the U.S.

While they aren’t sentenced to a life behind bars, a sexual offender’s lifestyle is highly restricted even after they’re released from jail. If you’re currently serving time, then you’re likely wondering how your new sex offender status will impact your life on the outside. If you’re already free but considering moving to Texas, then there’s are some restrictions you need to be aware of. Learn everything you need to know about sex offender restrictions in Texas below.

Sex Offender Restrictions in Texas: Know Where You Can Reside

In Texas, state law requires those convicted of specific crimes to register as sex offenders. This program is designed to help protect the general public from known offenders. As you can imagine, this designation won’t do you any favors as you try to reintegrate into society. Instead, it’ll cause you to think critically about every decision you make.

First, you’ll need to figure out which city you’ll be living in. You also need to consider whether your crime involved a minor victim and if you’ll be on parole or probation. If both of these factors apply to you, then your living options will be even more limited. You’ll be prohibited from living within 500 feet of a residence where minors live. You’re also restricted from moving into a home nearby a daycare, playground, youth center, school or park. Once your period of probation ends, you may be permitted to live in these areas.

Once you’ve found your new home city, you need to contact the local law enforcement agency and alert them about your status. Here’s a list of what you’ll be expected to provide to police:

  • Your name
  • A valid address
  • A recent color photograph
  • The crime you were convicted of

If anything changes, then you’re expected to report the change to the police as soon as possible. You also must report any vacations outside of your city that last longer than a week. Under these circumstances, you’ll have to re-register with the local police in your vacation area.

If you fail to report a change, then the authorities have the discretion to charge you with a felony. At times, you may also randomly be called in to verify that your photograph matches and that all the information is still correct.

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Understand Restricted Zones and Events

In Texas, the sex offender registration database is public information. That means anyone can look up your status and learn about your past. The public also has the right to know where you are, so your address will be posted online for all to see. If you’re not on parole or probation, then you won’t have to go door-to-door explaining your situation, but sometimes Texas police departments do alert neighbors through the mail if they consider you a high-risk offender.

Your participation in certain community events will also be restricted. In Texas, you’re prohibited from getting involved in any event that has children under the age of 17. These child safety zones apply to parades, athletic events, and other activities.

Restrictions After Committing a Felony

Were you convicted of a felony crime? If so, you need to know about further restrictions you’ll face. The first significant loss will be the revocation of your right to vote. If you’re passionate about politics, then you’ll have to completely serve your sentence, probation, or parole before becoming eligible again.

Another thing you’ll lose is your right to bear arms. You’ll no longer be free to own a firearm, including having one in your home. In Texas, you can reapply to own a firearm again under some circumstances five years after completing your sentence, probation, or parole.

Can Becoming a Sex Offender Hurt My Career?

Before your conviction, you may have been in good standing both professionally and personally in your community. After being charged with a sex-related crime, things will immediately start to change. Many reformed offenders immediately feel isolated, and their personal relationships suffer.

Your career may suffer as well, depending on the nature of your work prior to your conviction. Convicted sex offenders are rarely able to work in specific professions ever again, including daycare centers, medical facilities, schools and law firms. You may also be denied employment at places that serve the public such as restaurants, retail stores or other businesses. While no law specifies that you’re prohibited from working in a restaurant or business, many hiring managers shy away from hiring registered offenders.

Keep in mind that you are not allowed to pass through a child safety zone in Texas for any reason, including making your way to work. You’re not prohibited to take a job that would require you to enter into one of these child safety zones.

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What You Need to Know About the Internet

Did your crime involve the internet or social media? If so, then your privileges may be revoked following your crime. Depending on the severity of your crime, you may not be permitted to access the internet at all.

Don’t fret, though. Courts in Texas rarely impose such extreme punishment. Your internet use may be limited, though, especially if you interacted with a minor online. If this was the case, then you won’t be able to create social media profiles or anonymous dating profiles. You may be banned from visiting specific websites, like Craigslist or Tinder, if they were utilized during the commission of your crime.

Have You Been Accused of Violating Your Restrictions?

Clearly, sex offender restrictions in Texas are extensive. If you’re an offender and you don’t adhere closely to these laws, then you could face substantial penalties. You could have your parole or probation revoked and return to jail.

Have you already been a registered offender for over ten years? Depending on your crime and behavior after, you could be eligible to de-register. Texas Code explains that certain offenders can file an Early Termination of Certain Persons’ Obligation to Register, but few offenders have their requests granted.

If you’ve been accused of violating your restrictions or if you’re seeking to de-register, then it’s recommended that you enlist the help of a knowledgeable attorney. A lawyer can represent you and ensure the best possible outcome during your criminal proceedings.

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