19 Things You May Not Know About Sex Offender Registration in Texas

Apr 24, 2019 @ 9:55 AM

Texas Sex Offender Registration Requirements

Sex offender registration is a condition that applies to many sexual offenses in Texas. Accusations of sexual assault are devastating, not only because the threat of a felony conviction and jail time, but also because the person is facing the very real possibility of having to register as a sex offender. Most people think of sex offender registration as appearing in an online database, but there's far more to registering as a sex offender in Texas. Here are 19 things you may not know about sex offender registration in Texas. 

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1. You may have to register - even if you are not convicted. 

For most purposes, receiving deferred adjudication is not a felony conviction. However, accepting deferred adjudication for a registrable sex offense will not get you out of the reporting requirements. If you plead to a registrable offense, it won't matter that you received deferred adjudication. You'll still have to register as a sex offender. This means you must follow strict terms detailed in Chapter 62 of the Texas Criminal Code.

These restrictions will undoubtedly impact your life and livelihood, including where you live, work and socialize. Failure to comply with Texas sex offender registration requirements can lead to harsh punishment – including a possible new felony charge.

2. Registration is for 10 years or life, but "10 years" is more than 10 years.

Charges in which there was no sexual contact, such as online solicitation of minor, often carry a 10-year registration period. Other charges, such as continuous sexual assault of a child, require lifetime registration.

If your sentence requires a 10-year registration,  you may breath a sigh of relief and think, "Well, at least it is only 10 years."  However, "10 years" does not mean 10 years. It means 10 years after your sentence is over.  For instance, if you are given deferred adjudication for 10 years, you will assuredly be registering as a condition of deferred for the first 10 years. Then, when your 10 years of deferred  is over, you'll have to register for another 10 years to fulfill the requirements set forth by state law.

3. You only have a week to report to law enforcement 

Within seven days after arriving in the city or county where you intend to reside, you must report to local law enforcement. 

4. You'll have to fill out a detailed sex offender registration form

When you report to local law enforcement for the first time, you will be required to fill out a registration form and provide extensive information about yourself that includes:

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  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye and Hair Color
  • Other aliases used
  • A recent photograph
  • Details of the convicted offense
  • Job title/status
  • Any online identifiers – meaning any names of social media accounts or any email addresses

5. You'll also have to verify the information

Within seven days after completing a registration form, you must report back to the law enforcement authority, with proof of identity and residence, and sign the form as verification of its accuracy. We sometimes see individuals who thought they did everything right by reporting to the county, get charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender for failing to return and verify their information within a week.

6. You'll want to know your risk level

Individuals who are required to register as a sex offender are assigned a risk level and it’s important to know and understand your level. The levels include:

  • Level 1 (low): Individuals in this category pose a low danger and will likely not engage in criminal sexual conduct.
  • Level 2 (moderate): Offenders in this category pose a moderate danger and may engage in criminal sexual conduct.
  • Level 3 (high): Offenders in this category pose a serious danger and will likely continue to engage in criminal sexual conduct.
  • Civil Commitment: Offenders in this category are considered sexually violent predators and are civilly committed while undergoing sex offender treatment.    

7. You may have to report more than once a year

After the initial registration as a sex offender, you must report annually to local law enforcement. Some offenders might have to report more often, depending on your risk level, offense or number of prior convictions. For example, if you have two or more prior convictions for a sexually violent offense you will be required to report once in every 90 days. Offenders who have been civilly committed as a sexually violent predator must report once in every 30 days.

8. You have to keep information current

If any of the information listed on your sex offender registration record changes during the year, such as your name, address or job, you must go update this information with the local law enforcement agency.

9. You must abide by employment restrictions

When you register as a sex offender, you will likely be prohibited from working certain jobs, including:

  • Operating a bus
  • Operating a taxicab or limousine service
  • Operating an amusement ride
  • Providing or offering any type of service in a residence without supervision

10. You can still go to school and college

Registered sex offenders may still go to college as long as he or she follows all of their conditions.

11. You can't live on campus

Offenders cannot reside on a campus of a public or private institution of higher education unless they have been assessed as a low-level risk or the institution grants the offender permission.


12. Taking a trip? Plan on registering at your destination 

If you spend an extended amount of time outside your main residence during the month, you must report yourself to that location’s law enforcement, as well. Specifically, you must register in the city or county in which you have spent more than 48 consecutive hours on at least three occasions during any month.


13. Your driver license no longer lasts for six years

Texas driver licenses are usually good for six years. If you are a registered sex offender, you must renew any driver’s license or personal identification certificates annually until your duty to register has expired.


14. You can't go within 500 feet of an arcade, school, playground, etc.

This is one you probably expected, but have you thought about what that means? You won't be able to go to a niece or nephew's baseball game, soccer practice, dance recital, etc.

Depending on the convicted offense, as well as the age of the victim, you might be prohibited by city ordinance or your community supervision officer from going in, on or near “Child Safety Zones.” A child safety zone is a 500-foot radius, sometimes greater depending on the city ordinance, around a specific area where children may gather. Sex offenders who have been ordered to stay away from child safety zone shall:

  •  NOT participate or supervise any programs that include participants or recipients under the age of 17.
  • NOT not go into certain places, or within the zone radius, of premises where children typically gather, including a school, daycare facility, playground, youth center, public swimming pool of video arcade facility.
  • MUST attend a sex offender treatment program specified by his or her parole officer.

15. Leaving the state won't exempt you from registering

Texas requires sex offenders to register with local law enforcement within 10 days after arriving in another state. Meaning, if you register as a sex offender in the state of Texas, and you decide to move, you still have to abide by Texas registration laws.


16. You have to give up your guns

You lose your right to possess a firearm - even at home - after a felony conviction. Generally you may have a gun in your house five years after your entire sentence (prison, parole, or probation) is over. You'll want to consult with your attorney from the underlying case before you contemplate having a gun at home. 


17. You have to give up your passport

In addition to state laws, there are federal laws regarding sex offender registration. According to the State Department, certain sex offenders – specifically those who have been convicted of an offense against a minor - will not be able to use their current passport. However, they can get a passport reissued with a statement printed on it identifying them as a sex offender.


18. Refrain or use caution on the Internet or social media

As mentioned, your probation or parole officer can implement additional restrictions on you, including use of the Internet or social media. It’s not uncommon, for example, for sex offenders  to be banned from using social media or the Internet.


19. You lose your right to vote 

If you are convicted of a felony sex offense, you won't be able to vote while you are serving your sentence, including probation or parole.


The Consequences of Failing to Register as a Sex Offender

Failing to abide by these conditions will result in a new felony case being slapped against you before you know what happened. Additionally, prosecutors almost always only offer prison time on these cases. To make things worse, a previous felony conviction means you can't get probation from a jury.

If you are required to register as a sex offender and fail to comply with any of the many requirements of your registration, you can be charged with “Failure to Register.” 

What level of felony you will be charged with depends on the initial conviction that required you to register in the first place. Potential punishments include:

  • State Jail Felony: 6 months to 2 years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine
  • ​Third Degree Felony: 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
  • Second Degree Felony: 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
  • First Degree Felony: 5 to 99 years or life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine

Keep in mind, the prosecutor may also be able to enhance the punishment range with prior prison trips.

If you have been accused or convicted of failing to comply before, the charge may also be enhanced that way.

The Law: Sex Offender Registration Requirements in Texas

Code of Criminal Procedure Article 62.051 sets forth the basic registration requirements that anyone facing registration should review in its entirety. Once a person registers as a sex offender, the information is available in the Texas Department of Public Safety registration database. This information is available to the public through the TXDPS website located at Texas Public Sex Offender Registry.

If a high-risk sex offender moves, DPS will notify neighboring residences and businesses that the person has moved into the area.

An out-of-state individual moving to Texas must register if they have a “reportable conviction or adjudication,” which is determined by whether an offense under the laws of another state contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of a Texas offense that requires registration.

The first law requiring registration went into effect in 1991, but six years later, the 75th Legislature codified the registration as Article 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The biggest change made in 1997 was that the duty to register and the Article 62 laws apply retroactively to sex offenders convicted on or after September 1, 1970. Also, the courts and prison officials are required to inform those put on probation or released from prison that they have a duty to register and then must obtain a signed statement from those individuals saying that they were informed.

Who, then, has a duty to register after the 1997 changes? The chart below outlines what offenses, if convicted of, require a person to register as sex offender. Additionally, the chart indicates the registration length and notes whether the offense is considered a sexually violent offense, as defined by Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 62.001.

How long will I have to register as a sex offender for in Texas?

OffensePenal Code SectionSexually Violent Offense?Registration Length
Unlawful Restraint20.02, only if: (i) the judgment in the case contains an affirmative finding under Article 42.015; or (ii) the order in the hearing or the papers in the case contain an affirmative finding that the victim or intended victim was younger than 17 years of age.No.Lifetime, only if the judgment in the case contains an affirmative finding that the victim or intended victim was younger than 17 years of age and, if before or after the person is convicted or adjudicated for one of these offenses, the person receives or has received another reportable conviction or adjudication, other than an adjudication of delinquent conduct, for an offense or conduct that requires registration.
Kidnapping20.03, only if: (i) the judgment in the case contains an affirmative finding under Article 42.015; or (ii) the order in the hearing or the papers in the case contain an affirmative finding that the victim or intended victim was younger than 17 years of age.No.Lifetime, only if the judgment in the case contains an affirmative finding that the victim or intended victim was younger than 17 years of age and, if before or after the person is convicted or adjudicated for one of these offenses, the person receives or has received another reportable conviction or adjudication, other than an adjudication of delinquent conduct, for an offense or conduct that requires registration.
Aggravated Kidnapping20.04, only if: (i) the judgment in the case contains an affirmative finding under Article 42.015; or (ii) the order in the hearing or the papers in the case contain an affirmative finding that the victim or intended victim was younger than 17 years of age.No.Lifetime, only if the judgment in the case contains an affirmative finding that the victim or intended victim was younger than 17 years of age and, if before or after the person is convicted or adjudicated for one of these offenses, the person receives or has received another reportable conviction or adjudication, other than an adjudication of delinquent conduct, for an offense or conduct that requires registration.
Aggravated Kidnapping20.04(a)(4), if the actor committed the offense or engaged in the conduct with intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually.Yes.Lifetime
Trafficking of Persons20A.02(a)(3), traffics another person and, through force, fraud, or coercion, causes the trafficked person to engage in conduct prohibited by: (A) Section 43.02 (Prostitution); (B) Section 43.03 (Promotion of Prostitution); (C) Section 43.04 (Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution); or (D) Section 43.05 (Compelling Prostitution).No.Lifetime
Trafficking of Persons20A.02(a)(4), receives a benefit from participating in a venture that involves an activity described by Subdivision (3) or engages in sexual conduct with a person trafficked in the manner described in Subdivision (3)No.Lifetime
Trafficking of Persons20A.02(a)(7), traffics a child and by any means causes the trafficked child to engage in, or become the victim of, conduct prohibited by:
(A) Section 21.02 (Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children);
(B) Section 21.11 (Indecency with a Child);
(C) Section 22.011 (Sexual Assault);
(D) Section 22.021 (Aggravated Sexual Assault);
(E) Section 43.02 (Prostitution);
(F) Section 43.03 (Promotion of Prostitution);
(G) Section 43.04 (Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution);
(H) Section 43.05 (Compelling Prostitution);
(I) Section 43.25 (Sexual Performance by a Child);
(J) Section 43.251 (Employment Harmful to Children); or
(K) Section 43.26 (Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography)
No.Lifetime
Trafficking of Persons20A.02(a)(8), receives a benefit from participating in a venture that involves an activity described by Subdivision (7) or engages in sexual conduct with a child trafficked in the manner described in Subdivision (7)No.Lifetime
Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children21.02Yes.Lifetime
Indecent Exposure21.08 (Second Offense), but not if the second violation results in a deferred adjudication.No.10 Years
Indecency With a Child21.11No.10 Years
Indecency With a Child by Sexual Contact21.11(a)(1), (2)Yes.Lifetime; Lifetime for 21.11(a)(2) only if before or after being convicted or adjudicated for this offense, the person receives or has received another reportable conviction or adjudication, other than an adjudication of delinquent conduct, for an offense or conduct that requires registration.
Sexual Assault22.011Yes.Lifetime
Aggravated Sexual Assault22.021Yes.Lifetime
Prohibited Sexual Conduct25.02No.Lifetime
Burglary30.02(d), and if the actor committed the offense or engaged in the conduct with intent to commit Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child or Children, Indecency with a Child, Sexual Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault, Prohibited Sexual Conduct, or Aggravated Kidnapping with the Intent to violated or abuse the victim sexually.Yes.Lifetime
Online Solicitation of a Minor33.021No.10 Years
Prostitution43.02(c)(3), if the person solicited is younger than 18 years of age, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the person solicited at the time the actor commits the offense.No.10 Years
Compelling Prostitution43.05No.Lifetime (if convicted under 43.05(a)(2)) Compelling Prostitution of a Minor.
Sexual Performance by a Child43.25Yes.Lifetime
Attempt, Conspiracy, or Solicitation of: Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children, 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 (as listed above), Burglary (as listed above), Unlawful Restraint (as listed above), Trafficking of PersonsChapter 15No.10 Years
Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography43.26No.Lifetime

 

failure to register as a sex offender

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

The law requiring someone to register as a sex offender is specific and far-reaching.  Failure to register as a sex offender can result in serious consequences including felony convictions, serious penitentiary time and continued registration.

Proving the Offense of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Texas

In Texas, the State must prove you are first required to register and then prove that you failed to comply with any requirement of your registration.  

Punishment for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

The offense of Failure to Register was a Sex Offender can be a state jail felony, third-degree felony, or second-degree felony depending upon your specific circumstances.  

Failure to Register is a state jail felony if the actor is a person whose duty to register expires under Article 62.101(b) or (c). 

Failure to Register is a felony of the third degree if the actor is a person whose duty to register expires under Article 62.101(a) and who is required to verify registration once each year under Article 62.058.

Failure to Register is a felony of the second degree if the actor is a person whose duty to register expires under Article 62.101 (a) and who is required to verify registration once each 90-day period under Article 62.058 (c). If it is shown at the trial of a person for an offense or an attempt to commit an offense under this article that the person has previously been convicted of an offense or an attempt to commit an offense under this article, the punishment for the offense or the attempt to commit the offense is increased to the punishment for the next highest degree of felony.

Failure to Register cases often have enhanced punishment ranges due to prior prison trips.

Deregistration as a Sex Offender

The Texas Legislature added Articles 62.401 through 62.408 to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedurem which govern deregistration from the sex offender registry. A person may only be eligible for deregistration if they only have one reportable conviction or adjudication and if their minimum registration length exceeds the minimum registration period under the federal law.

How to Deregister as a Sex Offender

Deregistration from the sex offender registry is possible in Texas under certain circumstances. We previously discussed all the offenses which require a person to register as a sex offender. Now, we will cover the deregistration process and how to move for early termination of the registration requirement.

Are You Eligible for Sex Offender Deregistration?

STEP ONE: Was there only one case?

First, the individual seeking deregistration must have only ONE reportable conviction or adjudication for a sexual offense. If the person seeking deregistration has more than one reportable conviction or adjudication for a sexual offense, then they are not eligible for deregistration. Also, a Texas court must have imposed the reportable conviction or adjudication for a sexual offense.

STEP TWO: Does the minimum registration in Texas exceed the minimum registration under federal law?

If you have ONE reportable conviction or adjudication for a sexual offense, then you must now determine whether your minimum registration period (under the Texas Penal Code) EXCEEDS the minimum registration period under the federal law. The federal law on point here is the Federal Adam Walsh Act (42 U.S.C. Section 16911 et seq.).

The following is a list of offenses where minimum registration periods for sexual offenses that require registration under Texas law EXCEEDS the minimum registration period under the Federal Adam Walsh Act.

Penal CodeOffense
20.02Unlawful restraint with an Art. 42.015 affirmative finding that the victim was younger than 17 years of age & the offender is the parent or guardian of the victim
20.02Unlawful restraint with an Art. 42.015 affirmative finding that the victim was younger than 17 years of age & the offender is the parent or guardian of the victim
20.04Aggravated kidnapping with an Art. 42.015 affirmative finding that the victim was younger than 17 years of age & the offender is the parent or guardian of the victim
20A.02(a)(3)Trafficking of persons
20A.02(a)(4)Trafficking of persons
20A.02(a)(7)Trafficking of persons
20A.02(a)(8)Trafficking of persons
21.08Indecent exposure second violation, but not if the second violation results in deferred adjudication
21.11(a)(1)Indecency with a child by contact & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C)
21.11(a)(1)Indecency with a child by contact where the victim has attained the age of 13 years but not the age of 16 years and (i) the touching did not involve the victimÕs genitals; (ii) the touching involved the victim's genitals but was done through the clothing; or (iii) the touching was not done (a) by force, (b) by threatening or placing the victim in fear that any person will be subject to death, serious bodily injury or kidnapping, (c) by rendering the victim unconscious, (d) by administering a drug, intoxicant or other similar substance to the victim, (e) by threatening or placing the victim in fear, (f) with a victim that is incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct, and (e) with a victim that is incapable of declining participation or communicating unwillingness to participate
21.11(a)(2)Indecency with a child by exposure & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C)
20.02Unlawful restraint with an Art. 42.015 affirmative finding that the victim was younger than 17 years of age & the offender is the parent or guardian of the victim
22.021Aggravated sexual assault, offense is solely based on the victim's age & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C)
25.02Prohibited sexual conduct
25.02Prohibited sexual conduct & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C)
25.02Prohibited sexual conduct & the victim is 16 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age.
30.02(d)Burglary of a habitation committed or engaged in with the intent to commit 21.11(a)(2)
30.02(d)Burglary of a habitation committed or engaged in with the intent to commit 21.11(a)(1) & the victim is at least 13 years of age.
43.05(a)(2)Compelling prostitution of a person younger than 18 years of age.
43.23(h)Obscenity
43.25Sexual performance by a child
43.25Sexual performance by a child & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C)
43.26(a)Possessing or promoting child pornography.
43.26(e)Possessing or promoting child pornography.
21.02Continuous sexual abuse of young child or children.
30.02(d)Burglary of a habitation committed or engaged in with the intent to commit 21.02.

Also, offenses that have a minimum registration period under Texas law that EXCEEDS a minimum registration period under federal law, are an attempt, conspiracy, solicitation, or solicitation of minor to commit any of the following:

Penal CodeOffnese
20.02Unlawful restraint with an Art. 42.015 affirmative finding that the victim was younger than 17 years of age & the offender is the parent or guardian of the victim.
20.03Kidnapping with an Art. 42.015 affirmative finding that the victim was younger than 17 years of age & the offender is the parent or guardian of the victim.
20.04Aggravated kidnapping with an Art. 42.015 affirmative finding that the victim was younger than 17 years of age & the offender is the parent or guardian of the victim.
21.11(a)(1)Indecency with a child by contact & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C).
21.11(a)(2)Indecency with a child by exposure & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C).
22.011Sexual assault, offense is solely based on the victimÕs age & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. ¤ 16911(5)(C).
22.021Aggravated sexual assault, offense is solely based on the victim's age & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C).
25.02Prohibited sexual conduct & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C)
43.25Sexual performance by a child & involved consensual conducted as defined by 42 U.S.C. 16911(5)(C)

If you have ONE reportable conviction or adjudication of a sexual offense and the minimum registration period under Texas law exceed the minimum registration period under federal law, then you may be eligible for deregistration.

STEP THREE: Hire an Attorney.

If the answers to Step One and Step Two were “yes” you should consider hiring an attorney to assist you with the deregistration process.

An attorney can help confirm your qualifications with the Council on Sex Offender Treatment for sex offender deregistration. This requires an evaluation of your criminal history, preparing and submitting materials regarding the likelihood of reoffending and lack of danger to the community.

If you qualify for deregistration, you may hire your attorney for the second phase of deregistration. The second step includes the preparation and filing of a formal petition with the court for deregistration. The motion is filed in the trial court that originally sentenced the individual.

This motion will set forth a written explanation of how the reportable conviction or adjudication giving rise to the movant’s registration under Chapter 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure qualifies as a reportable conviction or adjudication that appears on the list above. The person must have ONE reportable conviction or adjudication of a sexual offense, which has a minimum registration period that EXCEEDS the minimum registration period required under federal law. The motion must also include a certified copy of a deregistration evaluation report.

If the court approves the motion for early termination (deregistration), our office will send the signed court order to the Texas Department of State Health Services for deregistration to be processed. An attorney cannot guarantee that this process will be successful, but can assist you by guiding you through the process and review your criminal history to see if you may be eligible.