How Long Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender in Texas?
Houston attorney Neal Davis explains what you need to know about sex offender registration time requirements
If you face a charge or conviction for a sex crime, you may be wondering if and how long you will have to register as a sex offender in Texas.
The Neal Davis Law Firm has answers. We defend many clients in sex crime cases, and we may be able to help you too.
Texas Laws on Sex Offender Registration
Most answers to questions regarding registering as a sex offender in Texas can be found in a section of state law that includes the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program. This law is known as Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
By establishing the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program, that law is designed to protect the public from individuals who have been convicted as sex offenders. The program provides local law enforcement and the general public with information on the whereabouts of offenders. This law also restricts where registered offenders may live, work or visit.
If a sex offender doesn’t meet the program’s requirements, that person can be subjected to felony prosecution. So incentives are high to understand and comply with requirements of the program.
Registration begins with notifying law enforcement in the community in which the offender resides. Registration as a sex offender includes providing the offender’s name, address, a photograph, and their type of offense. Any changes in such information must be reported to law enforcement as well.
How Long a Sex Offender Status Lasts in Texas
As for how long a sex offender status lasts in Texas, it ultimately depends on the nature of the offense. Keep in mind that, under Texas law, sex crimes are different from other crimes and are prosecuted more harshly.
An adult sex offender — 17 years old or older — must register as a sex offender for one of two time periods: either for 10 years or for life. Those time periods only begin after the offender is discharged from state supervision, which can include parole, incarceration (being jailed) or community supervision.
In other words, the clock doesn’t start ticking on 10 years of sex offender registration until after a prison sentence, parole or supervision has ended.
Lifetime Sex Offender Registration
Lifetime registration as a sex offender is required by Texas law when the offender is convicted of a sexually violent offense. Such offenses include:
- Sexual performance by a child
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated kidnapping (if committed with the intent to abuse or violate the victim sexually)
- Burglary (if the premises burglarized were a habitation and the offense was committed with the intent to commit continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children, indecency with a child, bestiality, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, prohibited sexual conduct or aggravated kidnapping done with the intent to abuse or violate the victim sexually)
- An offense under federal laws, foreign country laws, laws of another state or the Uniform Code of Military Justice (if such an offense has elements substantially similar to those of the Texas offenses named above)
- Trafficking of persons
- Prohibited sexual conduct
- Compelling prostitution of a minor
- Unlawful restraint or aggravated kidnapping
- Obscenity (if the punishment is increased due to the obscene material visually depicting a child in sexually explicit activities)
10-Year Sex Offender Registration
Convicted adult sex offenders who aren’t required to register for life must instead register for 10 years as a sex offender. That period ends 10 years after the date from when the court dismisses the criminal proceedings and discharges the offender, or 10 years after the date when the offender is released from a penal institution or completes required community supervision.
As for juvenile sex offenders, persons who register based on deferred adjudication of delinquent conduct must register as a sex offender until 10 years after disposition of their case or 10 years after completing the terms of the disposition, whichever date is later.
However, juveniles must also register for life as sex offenders if they commit sex crimes which bring a lifetime registration period for adult offenders.
For adults or juveniles, sex crimes leading to 10 years of registration as a sex offender include:
- Indecent exposure, second offense
- Indecency with a child
- Prostitution (if the person solicited is under 18 years of age)
Remedies to Sex Offender Registration
You might be wondering if there’s a way out — if there are any remedies to avoiding sex offender registration for 10 years or for life. The answer is yes.
Remedies can involve what’s known as an “individual risk assessment.” That means the state takes a look at your criminal record and determines the likelihood that you would commit a crime again or otherwise be a danger to the public.
As provided by Article 62.403, Chapter 2 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, an individual risk assessment can be sought by filing a motion for early termination with the trial court which sentenced the offender. If granted, that motion for early termination would end the person’s obligation to remain registered as a sex offender.
The remediation process demands an experienced and skilled sex crimes lawyer such as the Neal Davis Law Firm. If you want to explore your options for getting your status as a sex offender revoked or dismissed, contact us today.
Of course, the best way to avoid having to register as a sex offender in Texas for 10 years or for life is to avoid being convicted of a sex crime offense in the first place.
If you face a false claim, false accusation or charge of a sex crime in Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County, alert the Neal Davis Law Firm today. We fight vigorously for the legal rights of Texans every day — and we may be able to help get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Contact us to schedule a legal review of your case. It’s 100% confidential and requires no commitment from you.
For more information about Texas sex offender registration, see our related article: What to Know About Registering as a Sex Offender in Texas