A wide variety of criminal offenses can result in an offender being on the sex offender registry. It is imperative to be aware of the sex offender laws that can apply to various cases. If a registered sex offender doesn’t comply with the registration requirements, they are more likely to receive an increased legal penalty and lengthier registration rules. Furthermore, it can increase the years an individual must remain on the sex offender registry.
There are many sex offender laws within Texas, all existing to inform the public of local sex offenders and to protect the public from further crimes.
The sex offender registry restricts the freedoms of convicted sex offenders to prevent them from residing, being employed, or visiting areas where they are in a position to commit further sex crimes. For example, a person who committed a sexual crime against a child in Texas will probably receive a lifetime ban on employment within any educational setting and be restricted from residing near educational settings or playgrounds.
Receiving a conviction for a sex crime can be complex and difficult to live with. An individual may have many questions about all aspects of life as a convicted sex offender. This is why we’ve compiled the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about sex offenders in Texas. If you have questions about sex crime allegations and legal defense, contact us today on 832-843-1691.
What Offenses Require Sex Offender Registration In Texas?
In the state of Texas, there are multiple sex crimes that require a convicted individual to sign the sex offender registry. These crimes can be due to one conviction or a result of multiple convictions, depending upon the severity of the crime. These include:
- Sexual assault.
- Sexual assault of a child.
- Continuous sexual assault of a child.
- Sexual performance by a child.
- Aggravated sexual assault.
- Indecency by exposure.
- Indecency by contact.
- Unlawful restraint.
- Aggravated kidnapping.
- Aggravated kidnapping for sexual purposes.
- Compelling prostitution.
- Online solicitation of a minor.
- Repeat offender for indecent exposure.
- Child Pornography.
- The attempt of these offenses.
How Long Do You Have To Register As A Sex Offender In Texas?
The Texas Penal Code requires registration for some individuals convicted of serious sex offenses for life. Others who have been convicted of a less serious sex crime may need to register for at least 10 years. Some may need to register for assigned times based on their personal risk level deemed by the court.
It is a condition of probation for all convicted sex offenders to register with their local police departments under the Texas sex Offender Registration Program. A convicted sex offender must register within one week of arriving in any part of Texas. A failure to register can lead to the removal of probation, potential jail time, and additional penalties.
What Are The Local Level Laws For Sex Offenders In Texas?
Every local law enforcement agency in Texas will maintain the sex offender registry information in order to protect the wider community and provide surveillance of registered sex offenders.
In some situations, these law enforcement agencies will publish sex offender information to the public or provide a publicly accessible database to allow local residents to check on the sex offenders that may live in the community.
Furthermore, community warnings can be communicated via mail if a high-risk sex offender moves into a community. The warnings will contain advice for filing complaints, the best practices, and any other information that may be useful for the residents in the area.
Who Needs To File For Sex Offender Registration?
Similar to federal law, Texas law requires any individuals that meet specific criteria to register as a sex offender. Firstly, anyone with a reportable conviction must register as required by the law.
Second, anyone who receives parole or probation determined by sex offender registration must also register. Some individuals may have to register as a condition of their community-level supervision, and extra-jurisdictional offenders must register in Texas for any qualifying offenses.
If an individual has any out-of-state sex offenses, it is for the Texas Department of Public Safety to determine if these convictions qualify for sex offender registration in Texas.
What Are The Changes To Sex Offender Laws?
In recent years, there have been multiple changes to sex offender registry laws within state law and federal law. One such example is that a number of previously convicted sex offenders who resided in Texas had chosen to take a plea deal in exchange for deregistration after a number of years. However, a change to the laws meant these sex offenders were required to register for life.
The evolution of Texas sex offender laws is all focused on the emphasis on public safety. Individuals convicted for committing sexually violent offenses are required to register for significantly longer periods of time or for life, dependent upon each individual case and the factors involved with the sex offense.
It can be argued that these changes in laws negatively affect those who previously agreed a plea deal to deregister, however lawmakers can reasonably argue that public safety and preventing further victims of sex crimes outweigh the personal freedoms of convicted sex offenders.
What Are The Two Types Of Sex Offender Registration In Texas?
Registration can be for a 10-year period or for the rest of an individual’s lifetime. A charge in which there was no sexual contact, such as the online solicitation of a child under 17, will often carry a 10-year registration period. Comparatively, other charges, such as statutory rape, require lifetime registration.
If a sex offender receives a sentence that requires a 10-year registration, they may be grateful for only receiving a decades worth of registration. However, a 10-year registration can mean much more than that. This terminology means 10 years after the sentence is over.
For example, if a sex offender is given deferred adjudication for a decade, they will be registering for the condition of deferred for the first 10 years after conviction. When the initial 10 years of deferred adjudication is completed, they will have to register for a further 10 years to fulfill the requirements of the state law.
How Soon Must A Person Have To Register As A Sex Offender?
A convicted sex offender is required to register within a week of arriving in the city or county of Texas. When the sex offender moves to reside in these areas, they must report to the local law enforcement agency within seven days.
What Information Must A Sex Offender Provide To Register?
When a convicted sex offender reports to local law enforcement in Texas for the first time, they will be required to register a form and provide extensive information about themselves that includes:
- Their full name.
- Other aliases used.
- The sex offender’s residence.
- Date of birth.
- Eye and hair color.
- An up to date photograph.
- Details of the convicted offense.
- Job title and status.
- Any online identifiers – this means any names of social media accounts or email addresses.
This information may feel extensive and intrusive. However, it is all put in place by the Texas Department of Public Safety to protect the public in the event of a sex offender residing in the local community.
What Verification Is Necessary For A Sex Offender?
Within seven days of completing a registration form from local law enforcement, a convicted sex offender must report back to the law enforcement authority with proof of identity and residential address. This must then be signed as verification of its accuracy.
In some cases, a law enforcement agency sees individuals who thought they had completed everything thoroughly by reporting to the county. However, they may then get charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender if the sex offender fails to return and verify their information within a week.
What Levels Of Sex Offender Registration Are There In Texas?
Individuals who are required to register as convicted sex offenders are then assigned a risk level. It is important to know and understand the levels – maybe for your own understanding as a registered sex offender or to understand the level of a sex offender residing within your local community. The levels include:
- Level 1 (low): Individuals in this category are deemed to pose a low danger and will likely not engage in further criminal sexual conduct.
- Level 2 (moderate): Offenders in this category can pose a moderate danger and may engage in additional criminal sexual conduct.
- Level 3 (high): Offenders in this category pose a much more serious danger and will likely continue to engage in criminal sexual conduct whilst in the community.
- Civil Commitment: Offenders in this category are considered sexually violent predators and are civilly committed whilst undergoing sex offender treatment.
The more severe the levels, the more restrictions, and supervision placed upon the convicted sex offenders.
What Are The Regulations And Restrictions For Registered Sex Offenders Living In Texas?
Being required to register as a sex offender can significantly impact the individual’s life, making it difficult to find employment, suitable housing, and maintain relationships. However, it is important to remember these regulations are designed with public safety in mind and to discourage repeat sex offenses.
There are limited options for housing as a sex offender. Many need to be a set distance from schools, playgrounds, parks, and daycares in order to protect children from becoming victims of a sex offense. A parole officer will be able to provide support in finding suitable housing that meets all the requirements.
Some individuals convicted of sexual abuse must remain in specific locations, usually close to where they reside. Additionally, sex offenders may need special permission to travel further than the state they reside in. These decisions are made according to the risk level of the sex offender by the parole officer assigned to them.
For many sex offenders, part of their restrictions are the lack of permission to participate in community events as either participants or an organizer. It can be argued that this creates more tension when integrating a sex offender back into the community. However, these requirements are all with public safety in mind as many community events have a high population of minors.
Most sex offenders receive employment restrictions as part of their registration that prevents them from working in certain industries. Some professional licensing boards will not grant licenses to convicted sex offenders. A sex offender will also be exempt from any employment in any educational setting, whether it’s a private or public school of any age. This rule is regardless of whether the sexual abuse they committed included a minor.
Contact With Minors
A sex offender who committed sexual abuse against a minor or child will not be permitted any access to a child whilst on the register. In some cases, this results in a sex offender having to find alternative housing arrangements to stop them from residing with family where children are present.
A ban on the creation of social media profiles or internet access in its entirety is a common restriction for sex offenders whose crimes were digital sex crimes. This includes downloading and sharing digital child pornography.
Texas law demands that anyone convicted of a felony offense of any degree, loses their Second Amendment right to own and bare arms. This restriction is lifted five years after completing the full sentence for a felony conviction.
A convicted sex offender who committed a felony sex offense could lose their right to vote until the full completion of probation or registry requirements.
How Often Does A Sex Offender Have To Register?
In general, the majority of sex offenders have to report once a year to their local law enforcement agency under the sex offender registration act. However, around one-quarter of sex offenders has to report every 90 days.
After the first registration as a sex offender, an individual must report annually to local law enforcement agencies. Depending upon the crimes, prior convictions, and risk levels, some offenders might have to report more often, subject to the conditions detailed within the sex offender registration act.
For example, if a convicted sex offender has two or more prior convictions for a sexually violent offense, they will be required to report once every 90 days. Offenders of a higher level who have been civilly committed as sexually violent predators must report once in every calendar month.
What Happens If A Sex Offender Moves Or Changes Jobs?
If any of the information listed on an individual’s sex offender registration record changes at any point, such as their name, address, housing arrangements, or employment, they must update this information immediately with the local law enforcement agency. This is to comply with the factors set out in the sex offender registration act.
What Are The Restrictions On Employment For A Registered Sex Offender?
When a convicted offender signs the sex offender registry, there are immediate restrictions on all aspects of their life, including employment. Below are some of the jobs a registered sexual predator cannot perform:
- In an education setting – depending upon the severity of the sex crime and if the victim was a minor, some sex offenders cannot work any role within an educational setting.
- Driving a public bus.
- Driving a private vehicle service such as limousines and taxi cabs.
- Operating an amusement ride.
- Providing a service within any setting without supervision.
These restrictions may seem to limit employment opportunities for convicted sex offenders, however, these rules are deemed necessary by the Department of Public Safety with the safety of the community in mind.
What Employment Can A Registered Sex Offender Do?
Even with the restrictions, there are a wide variety of employment opportunities a registered sex offender can perform.
- Restaurant – due to the nature of consistent supervision, restaurant work is a reliable source of employment for offenders. This is entry-level work with the ability to internally progress within the company.
- Animal shelters – animal shelters are known to hire sexual predators due to the lack of contact with the public. If an offender has no previous crimes harming animals, they could be offered work in an animal shelter.
- Temp agencies – a temp agency can support a sexual predator in finding their first employment after conviction. If the employment is positive, many offenders are offered more permanent roles.
Can An Offender Attend School?
If a sex offender registers when requested and conducts themselves within their registration conditions, a sex offender may begin attending school. This is to support the personal development of the offender and support integrating them back into society.
All changes to education will need signing off and being supported by the parole officer, however in most cases, attending school is encouraged.
Can A Convicted Offender Reside On Campus?
In most cases, an offender cannot live on the school campus. This is all to prevent future victimization. However, if the offender has been labeled as a low-risk offender and followed the conditions of their registration, they may be granted permission to reside at the school address if supported by the school.
What Are The Rights Of Sex Offender Registry In Texas?
With many changes occurring to the sex offender registration laws over recent years, it is vital for any individual with a sex offense to be aware of their obligations and rights under the laws.
Those who received a conviction decades ago may be mistaken in believing they have regained their freedom from registration. However, this may not always be the case. Texas laws are clear on the timeframes that apply in relation to sex offender registration.
Will I Have To Register As A Sex Offender If I Am Placed On Deferred?
For most sex crimes, receiving a deferred adjudication is not a felony conviction. However, simply accepting a deferred adjudication for a sex offense that is registrable will not result in you getting out of the registration requirements.
If an individual pleads to a registrable sex offense, it does not matter that they received deferred adjudication. They will still have to register as a sex offender. This requires them to follow the strict registration information and laws set out by the Texas Criminal Code.
These restrictions ultimately impact all aspects of a person’s life and livelihood, including their housing arrangements, employment, and societal standing. The failure to comply with Texas sex offender registry laws can lead to further and harsher punishments, including an additional felony charge.
Will I Have To Register Whilst On Holiday?
If a convicted offender is spending an extended amount of time outside of their home county, they must register with their local law enforcement agency. Specifically, they must report to the local authority if they spend longer than a consecutive 48 hours in a state, 3 times a month.
What Happens To An Offender’s Passport?
As well as state laws, there are federal laws that restrict an offender’s freedoms. In accordance with the State Department Of Corrections, an offender will not be able to use their current passport if they have committed a sex crime, in particular, if the victim was a minor.
However, they may be able to have their passport reprinted with a specific marker identifying them as an offender for the county or state they travel to.
Hire A Love DuCote Law Firm Lawyer Today
From being accused through to being convicted of a sex crime, it can be a complex and emotional situation for all parties involved.
The criminal justice system can be daunting, and the lengthy sex offender registration laws can be difficult to understand. By hiring an experienced lawyer, they can support you through every step and explain all elements of sex offender registration.
If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, your freedom depends on the immediate steps you take.
Contact us at 832-843-1691 to speak to an experienced lawyer at The Love DuCote Law Firm today.