Short of murder, sex crimes are some of the most grievous offenses one person can commit against another. Sex crimes are therefore severely prosecuted at both the state and federal levels, and Texas imposes harsher criminal penalties for sex crimes than many other states. One of the most devastating consequences of a sex crime conviction is the possible requirement to register as a sex offender.
The sex offender registration program was developed as a means to protect citizens against sexual predators by allowing the public to access information about registered sex offenders in their area, who could in theory pose a risk to them.
However, sex offender registration has dire consequences for registrants, regardless of the relative severity of the sex offense. Even if you committed a relatively minor offense or believe that you are innocent, you will be placed in the same category as heinous criminals who have committed unimaginable offenses.
If you are required to register as a sex offender, you will be required to provide a current picture of yourself, as well as your home and work addresses. You will also be required to update your registration any time your residence or employment changes.
The Texas sex offender registry allows the public to search by location to identify sex offenders that live and work in the area, and also to search for sex offenders by name. The bottom line is that the public will be able to access your home and work address, as well as certain details of your offense.
As a registered sex offender, you will have a hard time finding housing and employment. Moreover, it is not uncommon for sex offenders to face persecution and harassment from members of the community who do not wish to have a “predator” living or working nearby.
Because sex offender registration has such dire consequences, it is important to understand which crimes will put you on the Texas sex offender registry. Below we provide a guide to Texas sex crimes that require registration, as well as the terms of sex offender registration.
What Sex Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in Texas?
In Texas, the vast majority of sex crimes require sex offender registration for some period of time. Additionally, if you committed a crime in another state with similar elements to a sex crime that requires sex offender registration in Texas, you will also be required to register as a sex offender here.
How long are defendants required to register as sex offenders? Generally speaking, you will be required to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years following the completion of your sentence. However, in many cases you will be required to report to the sex offender registry for life if convicted for a sex crime.
The following sex crimes require lifetime registration:
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Certain forms of indecency with a child
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated kidnapping with intent to commit a sex crime against the victim
- Burglary (if the intention was to commit one of the above sex crimes once inside)
- Production, possession, or distribution of child pornography
- Trafficking a person for sexual exploitation
- Compelling prostitution
- Unlawful imprisonment or kidnapping if the defendant is also charged with a sex crime
- Certain forms of obscenity
The following sex crimes require 10-year sex offender registration:
- Certain forms of indecency with a child
- Unlawful imprisonment or kidnaping if the victim was under 17
- Attempt or conspiracy to commit a reportable sex crime
- Soliciting a minor online
- Second indecent exposure
Which Texas Sex Crimes Do Not Require Sex Offender Registration
As mentioned above, sex offender registration of some form is mandatory for most sex crimes. However, there are a few sex crimes for which registration is not mandatory:
- First-offense indecent exposure
- Statutory rape
Importantly, although sex offender registration is not mandatory for these crimes, the prosecution may still require that you register as a sex offender depending on the circumstances of the offense in question.
Failure to Maintain Sex Offender Registration in Texas
Failure to register as a sex offender or update your registry is a felony-level offense, for which you will likely face jail time and an increased reporting period for sex offender registration.
If you are facing sex crime charges, you are correct to be apprehensive about what comes next. However, being charged with a sex crime does not mean that conviction is inevitable and that you will be labeled a sex offender.
Your best chance at staying off the registry if you are being accused of one of the qualifying crimes is to fight back with the strongest possible defense.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.