Deregistering as a Sex Offender in Texas
- December 20, 2017
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Deregistering as a Sex Offender in Texas
If you have questions about deregistering as a sex offender in Texas, here’s what you should know.
Sex offenders in Texas may deregister, allowing them to legally remove themselves from the sex offender registry in Texas. The laws of Texas require an individual convicted of a specific list of sex crimes to register as a sex offender.
In addition, the Texas legislature has a procedure for registered persons to remove their names from the sex offender registry. This process is known as deregistration. Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 62.402, it is possible for an offender to “opt out” of the sex offender registry when certain criteria are met. In addition, Article 62.301 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides relief for certain individuals on the Texas sex offender registry.
Texas Sex Offenders Registry
The state maintains a list of certain sex offenders and publishes the list for the benefit of the public. The sex offender registry in Texas is similar to other registries available in other states and the national sex offender registry.
The Texas sex offender registry is administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety. To search the Texas Sex Offender Registry online, enter the individual’s name, date of birth, residence address, county of residence, zip code, and/or institute of higher education. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure was amended to remove the convict’s employer information several years ago.
A defendant convicted of a sex crime in Texas, such as sexual assault, indecency with a child, or child pornography, may be mandated to register as a sex offender as part of his or her sentence. Depending on the specific crime he or she was convicted of, it may be necessary to remain on the registry from approximately 10 years to life.
The Texas sex offender registry is available to the public. It may be used by any person for “any purpose.” Teachers, parents, and others in the general public may search the Texas sex offender registry. Information about the offender is provided by the Texas Youth Commission, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and other regional, city, or county criminal justice agencies.
Injustice to Individuals on the Texas Sex Offenders Registry
If you or someone you love is on the Texas sex offender registry:
- This fact alone may mean difficulty getting a job (or keeping a job) or finding a place to live.
- Neighbors may harass you.
- In some situations, the community might prevent you from renting a home or apartment.
- Your neighbors will avoid you and, overall, it’s difficult to make or keep friends.
- Members of your own family might exclude you, the registered sex offender, from their lives.
Any of these scenarios may prompt you to conclude, “This is unfair.” You or your loved one has served time and you want to get on with life.
Deregistration can help if you’re qualified.
Realize that the law protects children and adults from future sex crime victimization. People required to register as a sex offender in Texas are deemed a potential risk to others. They’re at higher risk than the general population of committing new sex crimes if left unmonitored. The loss of personal privacy is less important than the protection of the public under Texas law.
However, the state realized that subjecting the offender to a life of having his or her identity disclosed on the sex offender registry is unjust in some cases:
- Many sex offenders are required to complete years of court-mandated sex offense counseling.
- Some individuals aren’t at risk of committing a new offense according to counselors or therapists treating them.
- According to these professionals, the offender doesn’t pose a risk to the public.
- Unfortunately, even though the offender’s counselors may say that he or she doesn’t pose a risk of committing a new sex offense, the registered individual continues to suffer negative consequences from his or her registration.
Employment, residential problems, threats, harassment, and social ostracism are just some of the problems the registered offender faces over time. Family members, including children of the offender, and friends also face cumulative negative effects of offender listed on the Texas sex offender registry.
Today, it is possible for some registered sex offenders to deregister.
Texas Sex Offender Deregistration Laws and Limitations
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (Articles 62.401 through 62.408) was amended by the legislature to allow some sex offender registrants to be deleted from the Texas sex offender database. Article 62.301 allows for a certain registrant type to be removed when certain criteria are met.
Importantly, deregistration doesn’t involve expunction, or removal of the sex offender’s criminal record. Anyone convicted of a sex crime isn’t eligible for expungement of the record in Texas. Deregistration removes the registrant from the public registry open sex offender registry database. In other words:
- Deregistration doesn’t remove the criminal record or information about the criminal case.
- Deregistration doesn’t seal the offender’s records from public view.
- Deregistration takes the offender’s name out of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s registry of sex offenders database.
- Deregistration also removes the offender’s future requirement for registration as a sex offender.
- Serve as a judicial finding on the offender’s underlying case (it isn’t an appeal of the conviction)
- Remove the legal requirement to notify the sex crime conviction to an employer or future employer
- Allow the offender to get a job that involves proximity to children
- Release the offender’s genetic (DNA) records from law enforcement databases
Eligibility for Deregistration (or Early Termination of Sex Offender Registration)
Registered sex offenders on the Texas sex offender registry may be granted early termination of their legal requirement to register by court order:
- The offender committed the offense in Texas.
- The offender must file a motion requesting an early termination of his or her requirement to register as per Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 62.
- The judge may grant the offender’s request if it can determine with admissible and authenticated evidence that 1) the offender has only one sex crime conviction (including a deferred adjudication) on his or her record, 2) the offender completed the Sex Offender Treatment Program (Texas Administrative Code Chapter 810), 3) the offender has received a professional confirmation that he or she poses little to no risk of a future sex crime (re-offense), and 4) the offender’s sex crime convicted resulted in his or her registration as a sex offender under Texas law.
Violent crimes will not qualify for deregistration. To qualify for deregistration, the offender typically committed one of the following crimes in Texas:
- Compelling prostitution
- Compelling prostitution (victim under 17 years old)
- Sexual performance of a child
- Online solicitation of a minor
- Child pornography (promotion or possession)
- Indecent exposure (victim between 13 to 17 years old)
- Unlawful restraint (victim under 17 years old)
- Any attempts, solicitations, or conspiracies of above-listed
A second-count indictment—or multiple cases—means the offender isn’t eligible for deregistration. The offender must be registered in Texas for a longer period than the federal law demands.
Finally, the offender mustn’t have had a re-offense since he or she registered as a sex offender in Texas. This means:
- He or she wasn’t convicted of an offense for which he or she was imprisoned for more than one year.
- He or she wasn’t convicted of any sex offense (including misdemeanor offenses) during the time he or she was registered in Texas.
- He or she successfully completed mandated sex offender treatment (22 Texas Administrative Code, § 810.2(b)(29).
- He or she successfully completed required probation, parole, or supervised release periods. If revocation occurred, he or she is disqualified for deregistration.
Each potential deregistration case is unique.
After the offender meets the first hurdle for deregistration (above), his or her time on the Texas state registry is compared to the federal requirement. In that event, he or she may deregister from the state sex offender registry.
Special cases, such as those involving burglary of a habitation with intent to commit sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, prohibited sexual conduct, or continuous sexual abuse of a child may qualify for deregistration in some instances. However, these cases demand more investigation into the sex offender registrant and victim or complainant’s relationship(s) and age differences.
For instance, a “Romeo and Juliet” statute was passed in 2011 that allows deregistration for young adults and teens arrested for statutory rape sex crimes, even though both parties swore that their sexual relationship was consensual:
- Article 62.301 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows young persons to 1) avoid registration on the sex offender registry in Texas or 2) to request deregistration from the judge.
- If one of the parties is 15 years or older and the other party is no more than 19 years of age, the matter isn’t defined as statutory rape and therefore doesn’t require registration on the sex offender registry database in Texas.
Deregistration from the Texas Sex Offenders Registry
Deregistration is a complex task. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help defendants to navigate the Texas criminal justice system:
• The prospective de-registrant must obtain approval from the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment (CSOT) as a first step. The Council is administered by the Texas Department of State Health Services. He or she should include assessments from professional treaters with the application as well as 1) current criminal history background check (state and federal), 2) court order describing the original conviction or deferred adjudication, and 3) victim(s) age at the time of the original offense (if a minor individual was involved. Include documents such as Indictment, Offense Report, and/or Probable Cause Affidavit. Professional assessment documentation should include statement(s) from a licensed sex offender treatment provider (under contract to CSOT) to provide necessary deregistration evaluation analysis. This professional performs a risk analysis of the offender’s likelihood of committing a future sex crime and prepares a written report of these findings to CSOT.
• A motion must be filed with a court judge. After CSOT approves the application, the offender files a formal motion with a criminal court judge. Under Art. 62.04: 1) the offender submitted a risk assessment with the trial court in which he or she was originally sentenced (convicted or adjudicated) along with a motion for early termination from the sex offender registry in Texas. The motion must be accompanied by 1) a report concerning the conviction or adjudication [Art. 62.402(b)] and a certified copy of the risk assessment [Art. 62.403(b)(1)]. The judge of the court decides the request. The judge has discretion under Texas law concerning whether the request is granted. It may be difficult to appeal the judge’s decision later, so it’s important to do things right the first time. Consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. Under Art. 62.405, the judge may deny the motion (without a hearing) or hold a hearing to decide whether he or she will grant/deny it. The judge can deny the request if he or she hasn’t included the required documentation with the motion.
Contact an Experienced Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer
Because of the changes in the Texas sex offenders’ registry laws, it’s now possible for the offender convicted of a sex crime to have his or her name removed from the Texas sex offender database.
Deregistration isn’t an easy process, but many believe it’s well worth the effort. Contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston at (832) 752-5972 for an initial case evaluation.