Juveniles Registering As Sex Offenders in Texas

Any time a juvenile is accused of a crime, the consequences could have a serious and long term effect. However, when a person under age 17 is charged with a sexual offense, he or she could potentially be required to register as a sex offender. This is a penalty that can carry over into adult life.

In Texas, whether a minor who was under the age of 18 at the time of his or her offense pleads guilty to, is convicted of or has received deferred adjudication in regards to a sexual crime, that person still could be forced to register as a sex offender.

Although the criminal justice system is different for juveniles, they could be required to register as a sex offender until the 10th anniversary of the date on which the disposition of their case was made or the terms of the disposition were completed, whichever date is later. This is the protocol for adult offenders.

However, depending on how the person was tried and what the alleged crime was, a juvenile could be required to register as a sex offender for a longer period of time. Additionally, if a juvenile is tried as an adult and convicted of certain offenses in Texas, it could mean a lifetime registration.

In Texas, a person could be required to register as a sex offender for life if he or she is convicted of:

• Trafficking a person or multiple people
• Prohibited sexual conduct
• Possession or promotion of child pornography
• Compelling prostitution of a minor

Texas is one of the harshest states when it comes to juvenile sex offender registration because the information is considered public. Unlike states where the information only is available to law enforcement and officials, anyone can see who is on the registry in Texas.

When a person registers, he or she is required to provide a plethora of personal information, including name, date of birth, sex and other identifying characteristics, such as height, weight, hair and eye color and shoe size. The person also must provide an address, driver’s license number, phone number and numerous other personal details.

Once this information is provided, it is available to the public. This means the information is available when a juvenile applies for a job, applies to a university or other educational institute or seeks housing somewhere. This registration could be a heavy burden even in adult life.

Being classified as a registered sex offender in Texas could restrict where a person may live in the future. Any time he or she has an address change, it must be reported and it will become public knowledge. If members of a community learn of the sex offender status, there could be acts of violence against the juvenile sex offender.

However, not all juvenile sex offenders are required to register in Texas. Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 62.352, a court can exempt a juvenile offender from registering as a sex offender if he or she shows that registration would not increase the protection of the public.

A court also could exempt a juvenile if it can be proven the anticipated substantial harm to the alleged offender or his or her family as a result of the registration outweighs any potential increase in protection of the public resulting from registration. A Texas juvenile sex crimes defense lawyer can make a case against the penalty.

How Sex Offender Registration Works in Arizona

If someone is convicted of a serious sex crime either in Arizona or even somewhere else and then that person moves to Arizona, he or she must then comply with the relevant sex offender registration statutes.  This is a process that’s not necessarily difficult, but can be embarrassing, but the bottom line is that those who fail to comply with this requirement can face harsh consequences.

Below is a brief look at how sex offender registration works in Arizona, and if you have questions or are facing potential legal problems as a result of these laws, contact a criminal defense lawyers today to schedule an initial consultation.

Relevant Requirements

If someone is convicted of a sex crime in Arizona, he or she must register as a sex offender upon his or her release back into the community.  This regulation has been in place since 1996, and Arizona is seen as a pioneer in this regard. 

Basically, when a sex offender is released, he or she is assigned a ‘risk level’ by the Department of Public Safety that’s determined by analyzing almost 20 different variables.  The person in question is deemed to be a level 1, a level 2 or a level 3 risk, and this is important because of the different notice requirements attached to each.

If someone is a level 1 risk, the only entity that has access to this registration is the law enforcement community, as this is the ‘lowest’ risk level.  Level 2 offenders can have their registration accessed by law enforcement and organizations involved with children, and level 3 offenders must comply with the notice requirements of level 2 offenders and notify any neighbors of his or her sex offender status. 

How Long this Continues

For the most part, absent rare exceptions, a sex offender in Arizona must continue to register with the relevant authorities – meaning every time he or she moves – for the duration of the sex offender’s life.  Failing to provide current information can result in additional criminal liability.  If a person does not follow the notice and registration requirements, he or she could be convicted of a Class 4 felony and face substantial time in prison.  The notice that’s required is 72 hours within the date of a move excluding weekends and holidays.

If someone is convicted of a Class 4 felony, he or she could face a maximum of 3.5 years in prison. 

Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders – The Ongoing Controversy

The debate about how the government should handle sex offenders has been long, complex and at times volatile. It can be extremely difficult to balance the constitutional rights of convicts with the rights and safety of the rest of the population; a topic of discussion that many people have very strong feelings about, particularly when children are involved.

In an attempt to appease one faction, the other or both, state and federal government agencies have tried a wide variety of solutions, from instituting background checks on anyone who works near children to establishing sex offender registries that can be searched online. One of the most controversial government decisions has been the passing of legislation allowing violent sex offenders to be institutionalized indefinitely. Some see this as a legal and pragmatic way to keep their communities safe; others see it as an inexcusable infringement on human rights. Although these laws were first passed in the early 1990s, the debate is far from being settled.

These laws are known variously as “Sexual Predator Laws,” “Sexually Violent Predator Act,” and other names depending on the state which passed them. They are based on the presumption that some repeat sex offenders suffer from “mental abnormalities” which make it extremely difficult or impossible for them to control their behavior. It is significant that these laws generally specify abnormality rather than illness, a broader label that gives the laws much wider scopes.

The Supreme Court weighed in on this issue in 1997, at the hearing of Kansas v. Hendricks. Leroy Hendricks was a child molester and a repeat offender. At the end of his prison sentence neared, state prosecutors became concerned that he would merely return to victimizing children. In accordance with Kansas’s Sexually Violent Predator Act, they filed to have Hendricks civilly committed as soon as he was released from prison. Hendricks protested this motion, claiming that it violated the law against double jeopardy. The Kansas Supreme Court seemed to agree and ordered his case to be retried. Eventually, however, he ended up before the nation’s Supreme Court, which reversed the state court’s decision.

The Court’s decision was very close at 5-4. The reasoning was that Kansas’s act did not violate double jeopardy because it was a civil action, not a criminal one. The decision also stated that protecting the safety of innocent people is a worthwhile reason to indefinitely commit people who are at a high risk for dangerous or violent behavior.

The decision remains controversial for many reasons. Some people argue that sex offenders do not have a higher recidivism rate than other criminals and should not be treated differently. Others are concerned that the law can be interpreted broadly enough to commit too many people, or sufferers of personality disorders who are not actually dangerous.

For more information about sex crime penalties, contact Milwaukee sex crime defense attorneys Kohler & Hart.

Sex Offender Registry Penalties

In most states, there exist very specific laws regarding sex offender registry. If a person has been convicted of a sex crime and fails to heed any of these provisions, he or she may be charged with further crimes. Therefore, it is important anyone charges with a sex crime to be familiar with all aspects of the law to avoid additional charges.

For example, Rhode Island law states that any person who has been convicted of a sex crime and is required to register as a sex offender and who knowingly fails to register, verify an address, or give notice of a change of address faces:

  • A felony charge
  • Imprisonment of up to ten years
  • Fine of up to $10,000

A person who commits these actions is in violation of the terms of his or her release from incarceration, even if he or she was on probation, on parole, under home confinement, or under another form of supervised release. Additionally, state law prohibits anyone who is required to register or verify his or her address from residing within three hundred feet of any public or private school. If convicted on this charge, the person faces:

  • A felony charge
  • Up to five years in prison
  • A fine of up to $5,000

Any person who has been charged with a sex crime is still under the jurisdiction of strict laws and provisions, even after he or she has served jail time and been released from prison. It is important for anyone that has been charged with this type of offense to understand the regulations he or she is legally obligated to follow to avoid further charges.

Can I Be Removed From the Megan’s Law Registry?

If you’re charged with child sexual assault, a conviction can lead to prison time, lifetime parole and, most seriously, registration on the sex offender registry known as Megan’s Law. Registration on this list severely restricts your life, including limits on where you might work or live. Your photograph may even be posted online in an Internet database, stigmatizing you further and possibly making you vulnerable to harassment — even if you have served your time.

However, what you may not know is that Megan’s Law allows for different tiers of classification. These tiers, from low risk to high risk, can drastically effect the consequences of Megan’s Law on your life. Your defense attorney works to not only get you classified on the lowest tier possible, but also get you removed from Megan’s List as soon as the law allows.

How Megan’s Law Works

Enacted in 1994, Megan’s Law is named for Megan Kanka, who was raped and murdered in Hamilton, New Jersey by a neighbor who happened to be a previous sex offender. This law requires convicted sex offenders to register on a list, notifying their neighbors and community of their sex offender status. If you don’t register, you’re likely looking at additional jail time and other penalties.

Here are some common questions defense attorneys often hear regarding Megan’s Law:

• Who has to register on the sex offender list? Anyone who’s been found guilty of child sexual assault or any other child-related sex crime must register. You’ll be classified as Tier I (low-risk), Tier II (moderate risk), or Tier (III) high risk. You’re also entitled to a hearing before final classification.

• What do the Tiers mean? A Tier I classification means law enforcement is notified of your status. Tier II means law enforcement, schools, day care centers, summer camps, and registered community organizations are also notified. Tier III notifies all of these plus the general public.

• Are juvenile sex offenders required to register? Yes.

• What if I move to another address? You must report your change of address to local police at least 10 days prior to your move.

• Will I be on Megan’s List forever? You can file an application for removal after 15 years of good behavior. Your criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey can do this on your behalf.

Removal from the Sex Offender Registry

Megan’s Law is a great asset to law enforcement officials in preventing repeat child sexual assault offenses. However, what if you were wrongly accused of sexual assault? Or, what happens if you have served your time? Is it fair to be stigmatized and punished for the rest of your life? This is especially critical if you are (or were) a juvenile at the time of your conviction. It may feel like you have no options, but your defense attorney can help.

If, after 15 years, you have not committed an offense after release from incarceration or after conviction, you can petition for removal from the Megan’s Law sex offender registry. Your lawyer will work with you and a qualified psychologist to file this petition, and show the courts you are not a threat to the community. If an offender was under 14 years old when charged with child sexual assault, he or she can be eligible for petition at age 18, depending on the circumstances of the offense. Removal from the list allows you to move on with your life without embarrassment or stigma, and gives you a chance to start over.

A Megan’s Law Defense Attorney Can Help

If you or a loved one is charged with any sex crime, you don’t have to suffer for the rest of your life. Whether you made a terrible, one-time mistake or were wrongly accused of sexual assault, a sympathetic lawyer can help you with your case.