What Is The Process For Registering As A Sex Offender?
In Texas, a registered sex offender cannot live within 1,000 feet of any place where children can be expected to congregate, such as a community pool, a public park, school, daycare or other similar types of places. The 1,000 feet requirement is usually computed as a straight line of distance (how the crow flies) from the sex offender’s residence to the place where children congregate.
Sex offenders usually have to register once a year, although in some serious cases they may have to register more often. Also, if a sex offender moves, whether it’s next door or another apartment in the same building or across the street, they are required to re-register. If they do not register their change of address, they can be arrested and charged with the third-degree felony of failure to register as a sex offender, which carries up to 10 years in prison.
I’ve been practicing criminal law exclusively for over 20 years, and the law regarding sex offender registration has changed. In the past, the length of time required to register was up to the court’s discretion, but presently, all sex crimes, except indecency with a child by exposure, require life time registration. For indecency with a child by exposure, the registration period is for ten years after the completion of the incarceration or probation sentence.
There is a legal process to allow some sex offenders to de-register. It’s a fairly new process in which the registered sex offender is evaluated by a mental health expert, who presents their findings to a court. The court then makes a determination as to whether registration can be stopped. I have not seen anyone go through this process and be de-registered, but in the coming years, I believe it will become more prevalent.
The intent of the sex offender registration process is for citizens and law enforcement to receive notice and be aware of violent and or dangerous sex offenders who may live in close proximity to their residence or places where children congregate. However, the sex offender registration process has become watered down. For example, an 18-year old who has consensual sex with someone three years and a couple of months younger than then and is consequently convicted of a sex crime is not the same type of person or a danger to society as a child predator, child abuser or pedophile. Thus, the sex offender registries often contain people who are not necessarily a danger to society or the community.
Keep in mind, if the statute requires registration as a sex offender when a person is found guilty or pleads guilty, there is no way around the registration process; no one, including the judge nor the prosecutor, can waive registration; it is mandatory by statute.
What is the Best Strategy for Defending These Type of Cases?
The best strategy for defending these types of cases is experience. Do not hire a lawyer to represent you on a sex crimes case unless that lawyer has extensive experience in defending against sex crimes allegations. As a former Child Abuse Prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s office, I know the means and methods that prosecutors use to seek convictions in these types of cases.
I will leave no stone unturned investigating the allegations and determining the best possible defense. I investigate and evaluate all aspects of the case, including: Why would a child make a false allegation? Was the investigation conducted properly? Was the child coerced? Is there a motive for a parent or adult to report false allegations? Was the child interviewed properly? Was a medical examination done and if so, was it done properly? I have success in getting sex crimes investigations closed and cases dismissed.
For more information on Registering as a Sex Offender in Texas, call the Law Office of James Alston for a free initial consultation. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (713) 228-1400 today.