Sex crimes are considered among the most serious offenses in every state of the nation, including Texas. In most cases, someone convicted of a sex crime in Dallas will be required to register with the Texas sex offender registry.
The current guidelines of the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program were put into place in 1991 and designed as a layer of protection for the public against individuals who have a history of sex crime offenses. That said, while the Texas sex offender registry provides a benefit to the general public, it is not without flaws – one of the main flaws being that all individuals on the registry are essentially viewed the same, regardless of the differences in degree of their offense.
Knowing this causes some individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes to wonder if they can get away with not following the state registry laws and what exactly will happen if they don’t comply.
What Is the Sex Offender Registry?
Let’s start by first providing an answer to the question “what is the sex offender registry?”. The Texas Sex Offender Registration Program, as outlined in Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, is a law that makes it mandatory for both adult and juvenile sex offenders to register with their local law enforcement agency. In this situation, “local” is meant to describe the law enforcement agency of the city or county that the convicted offender currently resides.
The information provided to the registry, which at the minimum includes their name, address, criminal offense and a color photograph, are then kept on record with law enforcement and made available to the general public and accessible through the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry website.
To further facilitate informing communities about convicted sex offenders in their area, local law enforcement agencies may also establish local websites specific to their communities. In addition, state law also allows for law enforcement to publish information on registered sex offenders in community periodicals, such as newspapers and local circulars. While all of this is viewed as important for protecting the community against violent offenders, it also puts the spotlight on minor offenders who will face ongoing community shame and discrimination for their crimes.
Understanding the Texas Sex Offender Registry Laws
The Texas sex offender registry laws state that any person who has a “reportable conviction or adjudication” is required to register as a sex offender as a condition of their release to mandatory supervision, community supervision or parole. The individual is required to register within seven days of arriving in any municipality in which they intend to reside in or visit for more than one week.
A part of the law that is sometimes dangerously overlooked is that this includes any location that the individual plans on being for at least a week – for example, a family vacation to another county. This part of the law also holds true for work-related travel if the offender’s work requires that they spend 48 hours or more in a city or county, three or more times in one month. For individuals who travel frequently, it’s incredibly important to understand when it’s mandatory to register with local law enforcement to avoid violating the law.
As for the duration of time that an individual is required to register, there isn’t much differentiation between the crime committed and the length of registry. There are essentially two terms for sex offender registration, ten years or life. Anyone convicted of a sexually violent offense is required to register for the duration of their lifetime, regardless of their age at the time the offense was committed.
Consequences of a Sex Offender Registry Violation
If at any point an offender fails to comply with the law, they are then guilty of a sex offender registry violation and can be charged with a felony crime. Different circumstances, including the degree of their initial conviction and whether or not this is their first violation of the sex offender registry, play a part in determining what degree of felony charge is issued.
The lowest level charge for failure to comply is a state jail felony, punishable by a term of 180 days – 2 years of incarceration. Each degree of felony charge comes with a more severe penalty, with a first-degree charge being punishable by 5-99 years in prison.
A felony charge isn’t always the only consequence of failing to comply. In addition to fines, an individual may face a loss of custody, loss of a professional license or revocation of a citizenship application. The potential consequences of non-compliance with the laws are far-reaching, making it incredibly important to understand one’s obligations thoroughly.
When You Need a Dallas Sex Offender Registry Attorney
Whether it was intentional or not, failing to comply with the Texas sex offender registry law is a very serious issue. If you’ve failed to comply or require legal help to understand your obligations under the law, it’s important to contact a Dallas sex offender registry attorney to assist with your legal needs. An experienced attorney can also help you understand what options might be available for deregistration, or early termination, of your obligations under the law. A Dallas defense attorney can help you with all of this and more, so contact one today to protect your future.
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