In June of this year, the national conference of RSOL met in Dallas. RSOL stands for Reform Sex Offender Laws, and the participants from across the country were there to push for changes in sex offender registry laws which they argue do not make the public safer while at the same time imposing burdens on offenders who have served their time but can’t move on with their lives because of the stigma of being on the registry.
In Texas, almost 80,000 people are on the state’s sex offender registry. When the registry first started out, it was designed and focused on child predators. After 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford of Florida was sexually assaulted and killed by a sex offender, Texas was one of many states that began enacting sweeping “Jessica’s Laws” that generally included mandatory minimum sentences and prohibiting sex offenders from living with 2,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. Texas, however, started its sex offender registration program in 1991.
Offenses Requiring Registration on the Sex Offender Registry
Over the years the number of offenses that required registration on Texas’ sex offender registry has grown and now includes a “reportable conviction or adjudication” on a large number of charges. A “reportable conviction or adjudication” means a conviction or adjudication, including an adjudication of delinquent conduct or a deferred adjudication’ that, regardless of the pendency of an appeal, was for any of the crimes listed in Article 62.001(5) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Crimes that require registration pursuant to that section include:
- Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children
- Indecency with a child
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Prohibited sexual conduct
- Compelling prostitution
- Possession or promotion of child pornography
- Aggravated kidnapping (if committed with intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually)
- Burglary (if committed with intent to engage in a sex crime such as those listed above)
- Solicitation to engage in prohibited sexual conduct
- Online solicitation of a minor
- Human trafficking
- Indecent exposure (2nd violation)
State law requires released sex offenders to register within seven days of leaving prison. In 2005, the Texas legislature passed a law that allows certain sex offenders who are determined to no longer be a threat to public safety to request early termination of their registration requirement and removal from the registry. However, the requirements to qualify for deregistration are extremely stringent; deregistration is only available for certain offenses, is not available for anyone who has committed more than a single offense, and requires the successful completion of a sex offender treatment program, among other requirements.
Being listed on the registry can be devastating, including exclusion from employment opportunities, restrictions on where they one live, and the overall stigma and isolation of being a known and publicly reported sex offender. Almost more than prison time, registration can be the consequence that has the largest, longest, and most profound impact on someone’s ability to resume their life. If you have questions about registration requirements or your eligibility to have your name removed from the registry, please give me a call.
Mark Diaz – Experienced Houston/Galveston Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced lawyer who focuses exclusively on defending criminal cases and who will aggressively protect your rights. Throughout my career, I have successfully handled every type of criminal defense case. More importantly, criminal defense is the only thing I do. I have witnessed firsthand how a criminal charge can negatively impact every area of a person’s life. As a lawyer, I consider it a privilege to help people during this stressful time in their lives. Call me today at (409) 515-6170 for a free consultation to discuss your case.