Sex Offender Registration

       Sex offender registration in Texas is required in the event of conviction for a number of crimes in Texas.  It is important to be aware that sex offender registration is required even if a person is not convicted but has received “Deferred Adjudication“.  In addition to the crimes that require sex offender registration in all cases, there are a number of sex crimes that require sex offender registration in the event that certain conditions are met.

The sex crimes in the penal code that require sex offender registration in Texas are:

  • Section 21.02 (Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children),
  • Section 21.11 (Indecency with a child), 22.011 (Sexual assault)
  • Section 22.021 (Aggravated sexual assault),
  • Section 25.02 (Prohibited sexual conduct),
  • Section 43.05 (Compelling prostitution),
  • Section 43.25 (Sexual performance by a child),
  • Section 43.26 (Possession or promotion of child pornography)
  • Section 33.021 (Online solicitation of a minor), or
  • Section 20A.02(a)(3), (4), (7), or (8) (Trafficking of persons)

       The sex crimes in the Texas penal code that can require registration if certain conditions are met are:

  • Section 20.04(a)(4) (Aggravated kidnapping), if the offender committed the offense or engaged in the conduct and did so with intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually,
  • Section 30.02 (Burglary), Penal Code, if the offense or conduct is punishable under Subsection (d) of the burglary section and the offender committed the offense and/or engaged in the conduct with intent to commit one of the felonies listed in Paragraph (A) or (C) of the Burglary section of the penal code,
  • Section 20.02 (Unlawful restraint),
  • Section 20.03 (Kidnapping) or
  • Section 20.04 (Aggravated kidnapping) if:
  • the case judgment has either an affirmative finding under Article 42.015 or
  • the order in the hearing or in the case papers have an affirmative finding that the victim or intended victim was younger than 17
  • A second violation of Section 21.08 (Indecent exposure), Penal Code, but not if the second charge results in deferred adjudication,
  • any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation under Chapter 15 of the  Penal Code, to commit an offense or engage in certain specific types of conduct,
  • any violation of the laws of another state, any federal law, or the laws of any foreign country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice for or based on certain specific criteria,
  • a violation for the second time of the laws of another state, a federal law, the laws of any foreign country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that is sufficiently similar to indecent exposure but not if that second charge results in deferred adjudication.

       There are two types of sex offender registration in Texas.  One is for 10 years and the other is for life.  Most sex offender registration in Texas is for life.  Interestingly, the rules about sex offender registration can change and become harsher for a person after they enter a plea.  This is because Texas courts have ruled that sex offender registration is not “punishment” although most sex offenders would disagree.

       The trend in Texas has been to get tougher on sex offenders.  More and more crimes have been added to the sex offender list over time.  Also, more crimes have been switched from 10 year registration to lifetime registration.

       Texas has the harshest sex offender registration in the nation.  Texas sex offender registration has become harsher and more severe each of the last 5 legislative sessions. Receiving “Deferred Adjudication” in Texas requires reporting just like a conviction.  One limited exception is receiving deferred adjudication on a second indecent exposure case. Interestingly, It doesn’t matter if someone is appealing a wrongful conviction, during the appeal an individual will have to register as a sex offender.

       Foreign (out of Texas) convictions do require reporting.  The test is whether or not the elements of the out of Texas conviction is “substantially the same or similar” to the Texas crime that requires registration.  Registration can be made retroactive. In the past, crimes that did not require registration at the time of conviction have been required to register, even though they were told that they wouldn’t ever have to register.

       This also means that it is impossible to be sure that the Texas legislature will not pass laws in the future expanding sex offender registration.  One can NEVER be sure they won’t have to register.  Just because Texas law doesn’t require registration now doesn’t mean the Texas law won’t change and an individual will be forced to do it later.

       Almost everyone involved in any aspect of the legal system privately agrees that there are too many sex offenders on the list.  This makes it almost impossible for police and even the most vigilant parents to protect the community and children from the real dangers.  Most people that check the Texas sex offender registry are surprised how many people in their own neighborhood are on the list.

       For example, most people would agree that an man that snatches children in a van is a more serious danger than a 19 year old with a 16 year old girlfriend or someone that got caught in college in a parked car with someone that they were dating.  Regardless, being “lenient” on sex offenders is one of the surest ways to lose an election.  For these reasons, it is important that anyone that is accused of a crime that has any sexual overtones be very familiar with sex offender registration requirements before they make any sort of plea bargain.