What happens if I fail to register as a sex offender?
Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I live in the State of Texas. I was supposed to register as a sex offender after my last criminal conviction. What happens if I do not register as a sex offender? What are the fines and penalties and will I be sent to jail?”
What is the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program?
Effective September 1, 1991, the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program was instituted in the State of Texas with the aim of protecting the public from sex offenders. Under the law, which is outlined in Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the law requires all adult sex offenders to register with local law enforcement in their city or the county in which they live.
Information which must be provided to law enforcement includes:
-Name of the sex offender
-Address of the sex offender
-Information about the sexual offenses in which the offender was convicted of or adjudicated for.
In addition to the information listed above, the sex offender may also be required to periodically check in with law enforcement officials and provide information if they move.
Who is required to register as a sex offender in the State of Texas?
There are a number of offenses which require sex offender registration. For example, all sex offenders who have had a reportable conviction or adjudication for a continuous sexual abuse of a young child, indecency with a child, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, prohibited sexual conduct, compelling prostitution, sexual performance by a child, possession or promotion of child pornography, aggravated kidnapping, and trafficking of persons must register as a sex offender.
(A full list of offenses can be found in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure)
What happens if I do not register as a sex offender in the State of Texas?
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, “Registered sex offenders are required to periodically report to the local law enforcement authority to verify the accuracy of the registration information and to promptly report certain changes in the information as those changes occur. A sex offender who fails to comply with any registration requirement is subject to felony prosecution.”
Will my neighbors find out that I am registered as a sex offender?
The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains a database of all known sex offenders in the State of Texas. This information is made available to the public. Whether or not your neighbors will know about your sex offenses, however, will depend on whether they have accessed the information. It is not unusual, however, for many homeowners to view this information prior to buying a home.
Additionally, the State of Texas also allows the police and other authorities to publish information about sex offenders in the paper or any other public forum. Furthermore, if you are considered a violent sexual predator, this information is likely to be disseminated when you move into a community.
Is there anything I can do to receive an exemption from registration?
State law will determine whether or not your offense will allow you to be exempt from the sex registration database. For example, there are certain juvenile sex offenders who may seek either a court order exempting the juvenile from registration or, alternatively, a court order classifying registration information as nonpublic.
Furthermore, although exemptions for adults are limited, there are certain offenses which may be exempt. For example, if your victim was at least 15 and you were no more than 4 years older than them, assuming the conduct was consensual, you may receive an exemption (i.e., you had sexual relations with your 16 year old girlfriend and you were 20 years old).
The State of Texas is determined to reduce the number of sexual offenses committed in the state. If you are a sex offender and you fail to register, you can expect to be charged with a felony and face even more severe penalties and fines.
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