Like most states, Texas law takes a harsh stance on sex offenses. This means that for convicted sex offenders, the consequences go beyond fines and jail time. After serving their sentences, they must register with the local authorities where they reside.
The Texas sexual offender registry has two goals: to protect the public from an offender who might commit similar crimes again and deter individuals from carrying out violent sex offenses. For many individuals, the registration requirement is a lifelong obligation and, as you can imagine, the consequences are severe.
At Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC, our criminal defense lawyers have years of experience protecting the rights of those accused of sex offenses. In this blog, we’ll go over the different Texas convictions that require sex offender registration, how you complete your registration requirement, and how we can help your case as it moves through the criminal justice system.
Understanding the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program
Those required to register as sex offenders are assigned a risk level. These levels include:
- Level 1: Individuals in this category are unlikely to commit criminal sexual behavior and therefore present a low risk.
- Level 2: Those in this category are at moderate risk and may engage in criminal sexual behavior.
- Level 3: These offenders present a significant risk and are expected to persist in committing criminal sexual behavior.
- Civil Commitment: Offenders falling under this category are classified as sexually violent and are civilly confined while receiving treatment.
Although the particulars will vary based on where you live and your unique case, the basic steps for sex offender registration are as follows:
- You must register with local law enforcement in the area where you intend to live upon your release from prison, discharge from parole, or conclusion of your community supervision. This registration must take place within seven days of your arrival.
- You are required to provide details like your full name, date of birth, appearance, home address, telephone number (home, work, and cell), driver’s license number, and Social Security number.
- You must return to the law enforcement authority within seven days of completing the registration form, provide evidence of your identity and domicile, and sign the form to confirm its veracity.
- If you spend more than 48 consecutive hours in a different county or municipality on at least three occasions in any month, you must report your presence to local law enforcement.
Once registered, individuals usually have to report annually to local law enforcement. However, depending on their risk level, offense, or prior convictions, some offenders may have to report more frequently. For instance, those with two or more prior convictions for a sexually violent offense are mandated to report every 90 days. Offenders who have been civilly committed as sexually violent predators must report every 30 days.
How Long Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender?
How long you are required to register will depend on the nature of the offense. In Texas, sex offenders register for 10 years or life, with lifetime registration being the norm for more serious or violent offenses. You may be able to seek a reduction in the duration or, in rare instances, exemption from registration only if:
- The offense was for sexual assault or indecency with a child;
- The victim was at least 15 years old;
- You are no more than four years older than the victim and;
- The sexual conduct was consensual.
Additionally, adult sex offenders may request an early termination of registration after receiving an individual risk assessment and explaining how the minimum federal required registration period is shorter than the one for their specific conviction or adjudication.
Offenses That Trigger the Sex Offender Registration Requirement
Texas law pertaining to sexual assault covers a broad range of behaviors. Those that may require lifetime sex offender registration include:
- Burglary: Burglary is defined as unlawful entry into a building or habitation with the intent to commit assault, a felony, or theft. If the offender intended to commit a sex offense after getting inside, it becomes a reportable offense.
- Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is the act of intentionally or knowingly causing another person’s sexual organ to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person without their consent.
- Aggravated Sexual Assault: Aggravated sexual assault involves the use of force, threats, or a deadly weapon, and/ or causes serious bodily injury to the victim.
- Indecency With a Child by Sexual Contact: This crime involves engaging in sexual contact with a child under the age of 17 or causing a child to engage in sexual contact with another person. Lifetime registration is required if the offender receives or has received another reportable conviction or adjudication.
- Kidnapping: Kidnapping is the act of intentionally or knowingly abducting another person without their consent and against their will and may involve the use of force, threats, or deception. If the victim or intended victim was under 17 and the offender receives or has received another reportable conviction or adjudication, lifetime registration is required.
- Aggravated Kidnapping: Aggravated kidnapping involves the use of deadly force and/or a weapon or results in serious bodily injury to the victim. For lifetime registration to apply, the offender must have intended to violate or abuse the victim sexually.
- Continuous Sexual Abuse of A Young Child or Children: This offense is the act of committing two or more acts of sexual abuse against a child or children younger than 14 years of age during a period of 30 days or more.
- Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography: This offense is the act of knowingly or intentionally possessing or promoting visual material that depicts a child younger than 18 engaging in sexual conduct.
- Prohibited Sexual Conduct: In Texas, prohibited sexual conduct involves engaging in sexual activity with a person who is related to the offender by blood or marriage, including parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
- Prostitution (includes compelling, promotion, and aggravated promotion of prostitution)
- Sexual Performance of a Child: This offense involves employing, authorizing, or inducing a child to engage in sexual conduct to produce or promote any visual material depicting such conduct.
- Trafficking of Persons: The crime of trafficking of persons involves the act of intentionally or knowingly transporting, harboring, or receiving another person through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of labor or sexual exploitation.
- Unlawful Restraint: Unlawful restraint is the act of intentionally or knowingly restricting the freedom of movement of another person without their consent and can include physical force, threats, or deception. Lifetime registration applies if the victim or intended victim was under 17 and the offender person receives or has received another reportable conviction or adjudication.
Those that meet the criteria for 10-year sex offender registration include:
- Online Solicitation of a Minor: This is the act of communicating with a minor through the Internet or other electronic means with the intent to commit certain sexual offenses, such as sexual assault or sexual performance by a child.
- Indecency With a Child: This offense involves engaging in sexual contact or exposing oneself in a sexual manner to a child under the age of 17 with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
- Indecent Exposure: Indecent exposure involves intentionally or knowingly exposing one’s genitals or anus in a public place or in a private place where another person is present and such exposure is likely to cause offense or alarm to the other person. A second offense involves a 10-year registration requirement.
- Soliciting Prostitution: Soliciting prostitution is the act of offering or agreeing to pay a fee to another person in exchange for engaging in sexual conduct. Sex offender registration is required if the person solicited is a minor.
- Attempt, Conspiracy, or Solicitation of:
- Continuous Sexual Abuse of A Young Child or Children
- Indecency with a Child
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Prohibited Sexual Conduct
- Compelling Prostitution
- Sexual Performance by a Child
- Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography
- Aggravated Kidnapping
- Unlawful Restraint
- Trafficking of Persons
Would You Be Required To Register As A Sex Offender If You Are Put On Deferred Adjudication?
Deferred adjudication is not typically considered a felony conviction for most intents and purposes. However, it does not exempt individuals from their reporting obligations if they receive it for a sex offense that requires registration. Failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements may result in severe penalties, including the possibility of a new felony charge.
Is Deregistration Possible?
Under certain circumstances, it is possible to deregister from the sex offender registry in Texas. To be eligible for deregistration, you must have only one reportable conviction or adjudication and your minimum registration period should be longer than the minimum required by federal law. An experienced Texas sex crimes defense lawyer can advise whether you may qualify for an early termination of your reporting requirement.
Speak to a San Antonio Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Today
If you are accused of a sex offense in Texas, call a criminal defense lawyer immediately. A conviction can carry severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, costly fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
At Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC, we vigorously defend our clients against sexual offense allegations by conducting a thorough investigation, assembling evidence, and challenging the prosecution’s case. Depending on the circumstances, we can also question the legality of any searches or seizures, tackle the credibility of witnesses, and negotiate with the prosecution for reduced charges or a plea bargain if necessary. We can also represent you at trial and use effective defense strategies to achieve the best possible outcome.
If you have been charged with a sex crime or suspect you are about to be, contact us today by calling (210) 202-1076 or using our contact form to schedule an initial consultation. We look forward to being of assistance.