A sexual offense is any crime that includes or involves any type of sexual assault, unlawful sexual activity, sexual misconduct or unlawful pornography. Texas lawmakers are well known to be especially hostile towards sex offenders who perpetrate crimes against minors including online solicitation of under-age victims. Texas prosecutors are notorious for prosecuting sex offenders aggressively. If convicted, a perpetrator can expect a lengthy prison term as well as a requirement to register as a sex offender registry for life.
Sex Offender Registration in Texas
The purpose of the Sex Offender Registration Program in Texas is to keep track of convicted sex offenders and to provide the public with information and make them aware of sex offenders in their community. Attorney James Gardner from Austin, Texas says that the state has one of the toughest approaches to sexual offender registration. Mature and under-age perpetrators, who have been convicted of a “reportable conviction or adjudication”, are required to register on the online registry. Examples of the kinds of offenses which merit inclusion on the sex offender registry include
- Any sexual assault
- Kidnapping where it has been found that the perpetrator intended to commit sexual assault
- Solicitation of a minor
- Any subsequent indecent exposure conviction
- Any sexual crime where the victim is less that 17 years of age.
Generally adult offenders are mandated to register for life. Juvenile sex offenders usually register until 10 years after the original conviction or longer if the sentence exceeds 10 years. However certain convictions will ensure that a sex offender is placed on the register permanently and cannot be removed. Examples of these serious crimes include
- A sexual offense aggravated by violence
- People trafficking
- Inducing a child to become a prostitute
- Involvement in distributing or possessing child pornography
Sex offenders who fail to register on the public sex offender registry in Texas are guilty of an additional felony and the sentence, if found guilty, is one year or more in prison.
Texas allows very few exceptions or exemptions from the obligations to register. While most young offenders can seek an exemption from the courts, adult offenders have very limited opportunity to seek an exclusion from compulsory registration. They can only ask the court for a registration exemption in very restricted cases.
Sex Offender De-registration
Under 2005 legislation certain sex offenders are permitted to petition to be discharged early from the sex offenders’ public register. The procedure allows the State to determine whether the sex offender is likely to pose an ongoing threat to the community and society. The advantage of the procedure is it frees up law enforcement resources to focus on those who are dangerous to society rather than offenders who are not a likely threat. Only certain offenders are eligible to be considered under the scheme.
The role of an Attorney
Anyone who has been charged with sexual offenses should seek the advice of an attorney without delay. The role of an attorney is to represent the clients’ best interest, to provide advice on the laws and if necessary to prepare a defense. A criminal attorney may also represent a client in an application for de-registration and early termination.