Sexual offenses are generally crimes that involve illegal sexual activity, indecent exposure, inappropriate acts of a sexual nature committed in public, or sexual contact with minors. Under both Texas state law and laws set by the federal government, sexual offenses are one of the more serious types of crime a person can commit.
Individuals convicted of such an offense are likely to receive prison time, and as well as criminal records they will also risk placement on the sex offenders registry. Sex offenders on this register have their freedoms of movement, residence, employment, and many other areas restricted dramatically for public safety.
Individuals accused of sex offender crimes must act quickly and with the support of an experienced lawyer. Registered sex offenders will find it nearly impossible to lead a normal life, and violating the terms of the sex offender registry will cause subsequent convictions with additional punishments.
Crimes That Constitute Sexual Offenses
Texas state laws designate the following crimes as sex crimes. This means a person committing them risks first-degree felonies and sex offender registration.
The following offenses constitute sex crimes:
- Sexual assault or rape
- Sexual exploitation
- Indecent exposure
- Public lewdness (sexual acts committed in public, even between two consenting parties)
- Prostitution or the promotion of prostitution
- Child sexual abuse
- Possession or distribution of child pornography
- Online solicitation of a child
- Indecency with a child, either by sexual contact or exposure
- Improper student-teacher relationships
- Non-consensual voyeurism
- Unlawful sharing or promotion of intimate materials, such as nude photos or videos
- Statutory rape
- Sex trafficking
There Is No Difference Between Rape And Sexual Assault In The Eyes of Texas Law
While many places draw a distinction between the non-consensual sexual acts of rape and sexual assault, Texas treats them exactly the same.
The following types of sex crime will be considered sexual assault/rape:
- Sexual exploitation or sexual intercourse that occurs due to coercion
- Penetrative sexual conduct involving force or violence
- Sexual activity that did not have the full consent of both parties
- Sexual abuse of somebody who is unable to consent, such a person may have a disability or mental handicap
- Sexual conduct with a minor, as below a certain age a child is unable to consent to sexual conduct – even if a minor testifies as willing, state law will say they have been sexually assaulted
Is It Possible For A Person Convicted Of Sex Offender Crimes To Get Their Criminal Record Sealed?
While the Texas state criminal justice system and federal laws are extremely tough on sex crimes, it may still be possible to get criminal records for a sex crime sealed.
However, there are very strict criteria for the sealing of sex crimes. Even if these criteria are met, there is no guarantee that a sex crime will be eligible to be sealed.
The criteria are:
- If it was a minor sexual offense that occurred long ago, and the sexual offense did not involve violence
- If it was a case of statutory rape where the victim was age 15 or more and the person convicted of the sex crime was no more than 4 years older than the age of the victim
- If the sexual act that was considered a sex offense was consensual between both parties
Does A Guilty Conviction For Sex Crimes Automatically Mean A Person Must Register As A Sex Offender?
Each sex crime differs in whether the person convicted has to register as a sex offender. However, the majority of sex crimes will result in a place on the sex offender registry if a guilty conviction is reached.
There are some sex crimes, such as indecent exposure, which could take multiple incidents to result in a person becoming a convicted sex offender.
Other crimes, such as child molestation or a violent sex offense, can result in sex offender registration even for an attempted crime.
How Long Do Convicted Sex Offenders Stay On The Sex Offender Registry?
Under Texas state laws, convicted sex offenders will be placed on the sex offender registry for either 10 years or a lifetime, depending on the severity of their sex offenses.
However, the terms for sex offender registries only begin once the sex offender has completed their full sentence.
For example, if a sex offender receives a delayed adjudication and then serves jail time afterward, their 10 years of sex offender registration will only begin on the day their jail time or probation finishes. However, they will still be on the register while waiting for their delayed adjudication.
The Three Sex Offender Risk Categories
Sex offenders will be placed into 1 of 3 categories of risk, depending on the severity of their sexual abuse and the likelihood that they will commit another sex crime.
These categories are as follows:
- Level 1, low risk – for sex offenders who pose a low danger to society and have a low risk of committing further sex offenses
- Level 2, moderate risk – for sex offenders who pose a moderate level of danger to society and have a medium risk of committing further sex offenses
- Level 3, high risk – for sex offenders whose history of sexual abuse poses a high level of danger to society and who are deemed likely to be repeat offenders for sex offenses
There is a more severe possibility for convicted sexual offenders whose sexual abuse crime means they are a higher risk than level 3.
These people will be civilly committed in order to undergo rehabilitative treatment until such a point that they are considered low enough risk to return to society.
Restrictions Placed On Registered Sex Offenders
People convicted of sex offenses and placed on the sex offender registry can expect to have their personal freedoms harshly limited.
The level of restrictions will depend on the risk categories described in the section above, which in turn depend on the severity of the sex offenses committed.
These restrictions could include:
- Restrictions on residence, if someone is convicted of child sex offenses they may not be able to live near schools, parks, young families, or anywhere else large numbers of children gather
- Restrictions on travel, with possibilities for it to impact local, international, and interstate travel
- Bans from organizing or attending any community event where a child is likely to be, especially if the illegal sexual act involved a minor
- Restrictions on employment, including anywhere a minor is likely to be present, environments involving no supervision, or transport roles such as bus or taxi drivers
- Restrictions on internet access, this could be limited to bans from social media. However, for sex offenses such as online solicitation or child pornography, blanket internet bans are common
- Passport restrictions, although in some cases the law will allow a reinstated passport with a clear sex offender identifier
As many sex offenses are also felonies, there are additional restrictions placed on felons by the federal government. These include losing the ability to vote and own firearms.
The Procedure For Registering As A Sex Offender
Under Texas law, a person convicted of sex offenses requiring registration as a sex offender must register with local law enforcement within a week of the conviction.
After the initial registration, this person must return to the law enforcement with proof of their address and identity within a further week.
If a person does not comply with these rules, they risk an additional charge for failure to register as a sex offender, on top of their previous charges for sex offenses. This is the case even if the initial registration takes place – and ignorance of the rules will not make an acceptable defense.
The Personal Information Sex Offenders Must Provide
When a sex offender first registers with local law enforcement, they will need to complete detailed forms.
These forms will require the following information:
- Full name
- Any other alias the person uses
- Place of residence
- Date of birth
- Sex and race
- Weight and height
- Hair and eye color
- A current photograph
- Details about their sex offenses
- Employment status or job title
- Information about their online presence, including social media handles and their email address
This information will be used to track the sex offender’s whereabouts.
Under a federal law known as Megan’s law, all of this information will also be freely accessible to the public through the sex offender database. This is to maximize the safety of the public and prevent any future sexual offense, especially one involving a minor.
Sex Offenders Must Regularly Report To The Police
Once the initial registration process is over, a sex offender will still need to report regularly to the police.
The frequency of this will vary, depending on the risk level assigned by the severity of their offenses. However, the absolute minimum frequency will be one per year.
However, for those convicted of violent sexual offenses or offenses involving a minor, every 90 days is the most likely interval.
For those whose offenses caused them to be civilly committed, it is likely that upon their release they will need to report to the police at least once per month.
Sex Offenders Moving To Texas
Federal laws dictate that a person who has been placed on the register for sexual offenses must register whenever they move to a new state. This goes for all states, not just most states.
Existing offenders moving to Texas have one week in which to register with the county police. If they do not, they risk a subsequent conviction for failure to register.
Changes Of Circumstance As A Registered Offender
Registered offenders are permitted to change their circumstances, as long as they do not violate the restrictions placed upon them.
However, they are also legally obliged to report this change of circumstances (such as their home or employment) to the police immediately. If not, they can be found to be evading or violating the terms of their registry.
It is also possible for offenders to go on to further education. In fact, this is usually seen as a positive sign that an offender is striving for personal development. However, changes to education must be signed off by either a parole officer or the police, and full disclosure must be made to the educational establishment in question.
Contact A Lawyer If You Have Been Accused Of Sex Offenses
If you have been accused of any type of sexual offense, whether it is public sex between two consenting adults or possession of child pornography, it is vital that you seek counsel from a reputable and experienced lawyer as quickly as possible. Under federal law, a conviction will follow you across the country, potentially for the rest of your life.
Here at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we pride ourselves on committing ourselves to our clients’ legal needs in an atmosphere of compassion with zero judgment.