Texas Sex Offender Records
What is a Sex Offender?
Any individual found guilty of committing a sex crime is known as a sex offender. Being a sex offender has devastating consequences in both US federal and state jurisdictions. This is because sex crimes attract harsh penalties from the law.
In Texas, sex offenses are grievous violations, and the Texas courts are particularly strict with sanctions when such charges are brought before them. The penalties faced by a sex offender include incarceration, fines, probation, sex offender registration, and more.
Apart from penalties imposed by the court, convicted individuals will often endure stigma in their community. Certain laws may also limit the offender's access to some places (e.g., public parks and schools). However, these limitations are imposed to protect the public from victimization and allow law enforcement to keep tabs on the offender.
Who is Considered a Sex Offender in Texas?
In Texas, a sex offender is an individual guilty of violating Chapter 21 of the Texas Penal Code (Sexual Offenses). Any resident of the state found in violation of the sexual offenses statute shall be penalized accordingly. Usually, people found guilty of sexual offenses against minors incur the harshest penalties.
What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses in Texas?
The Texas Penal Code contains different sex offenses that can lead to incarceration, fines, probation, and more. These offenses include:
Continuous sexual abuse of young child/children: A person is guilty of this offense if:
- The person commits two or more sexually abusive acts against a minor within thirty days or more.
- The offender was at least seventeen years old, and the victim was below fourteen years old at the time of the offense. It is not a defense that the culprit did not know of the victim's age.
Acts that qualify as sexual abuse in Texas include any or a combination of the following:
- Trafficking of persons
- Compelling prostitution
- Sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault
- Sexual performance by a child
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Indecency with a child
Continuous sexual abuse of a young child/children is a felony of the first degree in Texas. Offenders shall remain in prison for a period not less than twenty-five years and not over ninety-nine years.
Public lewdness: Individuals are guilty of public lewdness in Texas when they engage in certain sexual acts in a public space or where the act will probably alarm or offend another person. These acts include:
- Sexual intercourse
- Sexual contact
- Deviate sexual intercourse
In Texas, public lewdness is a class A misdemeanor, and it is penalized with a maximum jail sentence of a year.
Indecent Exposure: This occurs if one exposes their genitals to arouse another person, and another person present during the act feels offended or alarmed.
Anyone who commits indecent exposure is guilty of a class B misdemeanor and faces a maximum of 180 days in county jail.
Bestiality: An individual is guilty of this offense upon the deliberate engagement of an unlawful sexual contact between the individual and an animal under these circumstances:
- If the act involves the use of the individual's anus, mouth, or genitals and that of the animal's
- The offender touches the genitals of the animal in a manner that is indecent and unlawful in veterinary or animal husbandry practices.
- The animal comes in contact with the offender's seminal fluid.
- The offender inserts any body part or device in the animal's genitals in an indecent manner.
Bestiality can be a felony of the third degree or a class A misdemeanor for the first offense. A subsequent conviction is a second-degree felony.
Indecency with a child: A person commits this offense if the victim is a child not yet seventeen, and the individual engages in:
- Sexual contact with the victim or causes the victim to take part in the act. Here, the offender commits a felony of the second degree.
- An act to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of any individual (a third-degree felony).
Improper relationship between educator and student: An individual that works in a public or private primary or secondary school is guilty of this offense under the following circumstances:
- The employee engages in a deviate sexual act, sexual contact, or has sex with a student of the school.
- An individual who holds any school administrative or teaching position, regardless of if they are qualified for the post, takes part in sexual acts with a student enrolled in the same school or a student participating in a program sponsored by the school.
This offense is a felony of the second degree that attracts a prison term of two to twenty years.
Invasive visual recording: This sex crime occurs under circumstances that amount to an invasion of privacy and are committed without the victim's consent:
- The offender takes pictures, videotapes, or uses other electronic means to record, share, or transmit pictures showing an intimate part of the victim's body and the victim reasonably believes that the body part should not be seen in public.
- The offender shares or transmits electronic visuals of another person in a bathroom or changing room after taking such images, videos, or other electronic visuals.
Persons convicted of this crime can be incarcerated for 180 days to two years in a jail facility.
Voyeurism: An individual commits this crime if they watch a person in their residence or a private location without consent for sexual gratification. This offense is a class C misdemeanor. However, for subsequent violations that occur more than two times, it is a class B misdemeanor. If the victim was fourteen years old when the crime occurred, voyeurism is a state jail felony. Therefore, an offender can spend 180 days to 2 years in jail. It may also attract a fine penalty that does not exceed $10,000 (Section 12.35 of the Texas Penal Code).
Sexual coercion: An individual is guilty of this offense if they commit a crime under Chapter 43 of the state's Penal Code using deliberate coercion or extortion. A first conviction is a state jail felony, but a second or subsequent offense is a felony of the third degree.
What Types of Sex Offenders Exist in Texas?
Texas classifies sex offenders by their risk to society. Usually, the judicial branch and the Department of Criminal Justice or Texas Youth Commission determine what offender falls under a particular risk level, as advised by the Risk Assessment Review Committee. The committee deliberates the risk level of offenders by evaluating their criminal histories and predicting the likelihood of a subsequent offense or danger posed to the community.
Using the Risk Assessment Review Committee's evaluations, the court can ascertain the level of risk of a sex offender. The risk levels of sex offenders in Texas include:
Level one: Sex offenders classified under this level are low-risk offenders that pose the lowest potential threat to public safety. The court believes that the risk of the offender committing another sex offense is significantly low.
Level two: Sex offenders in this category pose a moderate threat to their community, and there is a reasonable chance of repeat offenses.
Level three: Sex offenders in this category are considered a danger to the community. Such offenders might engage in more unlawful sexual conduct or possess previous convictions of severe sex crimes. Usually, individuals guilty of sex crimes involving minors will fall into this category.
Civil Commitment: Sex offenders who committed serious violent sexual offenses because of a behavioral abnormality fall under this category. They undergo outpatient treatments, and a law enforcement agency supervises their progress.
How to Find a Sex Offender Near Me in Texas
Under Art. 62.005 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) has to maintain a computerized central database containing sex offender information generated from the registration process: the Texas Public Sex Offender Website. Individuals can use this database to find sex offenders near them in Texas.
Likewise, the Department of Justice provides the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) that contains a nationwide database of sex offender registries. Users can get Texas sex offender information by using the "search by location" option and inputting their city or town of residence.
Local law enforcement agencies also have the duty of releasing sex offender information to anyone who requests such. The agencies may charge a small fee that covers the administrative expense of disseminating the information. Interested persons can also check an agency's official site for other available methods of obtaining the desired information.
Interested members of the public may also obtain public record information from third-party websites. These privately owned sites typically host data culled from public databases and repositories. However, the information available on third-party sites may vary since they are independent of government sources. In order to use a third-party site, record seekers may be required to provide all or some of the following information:
- The full name on the record of choice
- The last known or current address of the named individual
- The address of the requestor
What Happens When You Register as a Sex Offender in Texas
Depending on the crime, the registration period for a Texas sex offender will be for a ten-year duration of the rest of the offender's life. Usually, violent sex crimes involving minors warrant lifetime registration.
Upon registration as a sex offender in Texas, individuals will face certain restrictions and be required to adhere to some conditions. For one, offenders that wish to change their residential location, move to another state, or enroll in a new school must inform their local law enforcement authority. Registrants must also report to their local law enforcement agency occasionally to update their registration information. Failure of a sex offender to fulfill the registration condition will result in a felony conviction.
In Texas, certain registrants incur residential restrictions, and they cannot live or visit any location within 500 feet of a minor safety zone. This limitation applies to sex offenders that committed sex crimes involving minors. The places restricted from sex offenders include youth centers, daycare facilities, public playgrounds, public parks, and schools.
In addition, sex offenders regarded as child predators may be barred from having contact with any minor, whether physically or through electronic means. These offenders are also prohibited from participating in sport, cultural, or civic community activities that engage minors aged seventeen years or younger.
Internet restrictions may also be imposed on individuals convicted of sex offenses committed using the internet. The court can restrict their access to certain websites or social media networks.
Furthermore, suppose an individual faces felony criminal charges for a sex offense. In that case, the Texas Penal Code revokes their right to vote or own a firearm until the completion of their incarceration sentence and their parole or probation period.
What is the Texas Sex Offender Registry?
The Texas Sex Offender Registry contains specific statewide data on individuals convicted of sex crimes. The registry may contain data like names and aliases, dates of birth, and physical descriptors like gender, weight, height, and race of sex offenders. Users of the registry may also find current addresses, risk levels, conviction details, and photographs of registered offenders who reside in the state.
To protect residents from sex offenders, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure mandates sex offenders, both adults, and juveniles, to register with the law enforcement authority of the county or city they reside in, no later than seven days after they arrive in that county or city. However, their registration duration varies from ten years to a lifetime, depending on the nature of the sex crime committed.
Once registered, offenders report periodically to local law enforcement authorities to verify the registration information they have provided and update the data as required. Sexual offenders who do not comply with any registration requirements may be charged with a felony.
Although the registry is kept by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the information on it is gathered from various agencies, such as the:
- Texas Juvenile Justice Department
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- Local law enforcement agencies.
The Texas Sex Offender Registry data is open to the public. However, certain information is restricted and not released to the public. This information includes a registrant's:
- Social Security Number
- Phone numbers
- Driver's license number,
- Employer's name, address, and telephone number
Non-public information also includes:
- Juvenile sex offender registration data ordered non-public by a juvenile court; and
- Other information which would identify the victim of a sex crime
What are the Sex Offender Laws in Texas?
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure mandates that sex offenders register with the law enforcement authority of the county or city they reside in within seven days of arrival. The law also mandates offenders to report periodically to the local law enforcement authorities to verify the registration information they have provided and update the data as required. Sexual offenders who do not comply with registration requirements are liable for prosecution for a felony.
How Long Do Sex Offenders Have to Register in Texas?
The requirement for sex offenders' registration varies from ten years to lifelong registrations, depending on the sex crime committed. People convicted for any of the following crimes are to register for life:
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child,
- Indecency with a child,
- Sexual assault,
- Aggravated sexual assault,
- Sexual performance by a child,
- Burglary, to commit a sex crime once inside,
- Human trafficking involving prostitution,
- Aggravated kidnapping, if there was an intent to commit a sex crime,
- Child trafficking involving or leading to a sex crime,
- Continuous human or child trafficking,
- Possession or promotion of child pornography
- Compelling child prostitution,
- Possession or promotion of obscene material of children under 18
The following crimes require lifetime registration if other convictions exist:
- indecent exposure involving a minor
- unlawful restraint or kidnap of a child under the age of 17.
The following offenses require registration for ten years:
- indecent exposure involving a minor, if it was a first-time offense,
- unlawful restraint or kidnap of a child, if it was a first-time offense,
- a second-time crime of indecent exposure involving an adult,
- specific cases of statutory rape with a minor under the age of 17, and
- soliciting a minor online,
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit a sex crime that requires registration.
Can a Sex Offender Live With Their Family in Texas?
Sex offenders may live with family members. However, sex offenders convicted for crimes against children may have to seek alternative accommodation if residing with family members violates the state rule against living with children.
Do Sex Offenders Have to Notify Neighbors in Texas?
Sex offenders resident, schooling, or working in Texas do not have to notify neighbors of their sex offender status. However, they have to register with the law enforcement authority of the county or city they reside in, not later than seven days after they arrive in that county or city. Even after registration, they also have to report periodically to the local law enforcement authority to verify the registration information they have provided and update the data as events occur.
Sex offenders must also notify the following authorities of their sex offender status within seven days after they commence work or enroll in a public or private institution of higher education, or after they terminate employment or enrollment in a public or private institution of higher education:
- The campus security authorities, such as the campus police department; and
- The offender's primary registration authority.
Texas residents are usually notified of sex offenders in their community in the following ways:
- The Texas Department of Public Safety has immunity to give out some sex offender information held by government agencies and may release related details where necessary.
- Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Database: The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains sex offender information. Anyone can obtain information from this database at any time via the Texas Department of Public Safety website.
- Post Card Notification: If a sex offender is about to be released and the Texas Department of Public Safety receives notices about the release, the department will issue an English or Spanish postcard to the community where the sex offender intends to reside. The postcard may be mailed or delivered to each address within a one-mile radius in an unsubdivided area or a three-block area in a subdivided area.
- News publication: Local authorities may publish the names of sex offenders in any newspaper where the sex offender lives.
- School Notification: Local law enforcement authorities in an area where a sex offender intends to relocate may notify the public school district or superintendent of such relocation or intention to relocate.
Do Sex Offenders Have to Put a Sign in Their Yard in Texas?
Sex offenders in Texas are not required to put up signs in their yards. However, they face some other restrictions and regulations like limited housing options as they may have to stay certain distances from schools, parks, playgrounds, and daycares. Sex offenders may also be restricted from participating in specific community events involving children.
How Close Can a Sex Offender Live to a School in Texas?
The Texas Penal Code does not restrict registered sex offenders from residing or going near places where children frequently gather. However, Texas child safety laws allow local authorities to set additional residency restrictions for sex offenders, like the imposition of a "child safety zone." A "child safety zone" restricts the presence of certain individuals in, on, or within specific distances of a place where children frequent, such as schools, playgrounds, or daycare centers. Residency restrictions can be imposed on registrants under probation or parole, and sex offenders who violate "child safety zone" rules can have their probation, parole, or citation revoked. However, the restriction ceases to be effective as soon as registrants are no longer under probation or parole.
Additionally, sex offenders may not live on the campus of a public or private institution of higher education unless:
- They are assigned a low-risk level upon an assessment conducted with the sex offender screening tool; and
- The higher institution permits the sex offender to live on its campus.
Can You Expunge a Sex Offender Charge in Texas?
Texas sex offenders can apply for removal from the sex offender registry. However, an approval only removes their name from the public register and does not clear up or seal the offender's criminal records.
Juvenile sex offenders may seek a court order classifying their registration information as confidential. Adult offenders can only seek a court's order for an exemption where:
- Their conviction or deferred adjudication of community supervision is a result of indecency with a child or sexual assault.
- The victim was not less than 15 years of age, and the offender was not more than four years older than the victim when he or she committed the offense.
- The offense involved the consent of the victim.
Adult sex offenders may also seek a court order for early termination of registration after receiving individual risk assessments and by satisfying the court that the reportable conviction against them or adjudication's registration period is above the minimum registration period required under federal laws. People interested in getting off the Texas Sex Offender Registry can contact the agency that most recently updated their registration records. They can find this agency on their public record on the Sex Offender Registration website. If more than one agency is listed, registrants can contact the agency connected with the most recent event date. To expedite the process, offenders may have to follow the steps below and provide the stated documents to the relevant agency:
- They do not require registration in any way by presenting the judgment from the adjudicating court, the charging instrument, or proof of discharge for all offenses requiring registration,
- Every possible crime requiring registration has completed dispositions in Texas and national criminal histories, and that there are no other registerable offense(s) in Texas and national criminal records,
- No extra-jurisdictional registration, whether federal, military, or foreign law requirements, exists, and that
- They are under no current parole or probation conditions requiring registration.
Confirm the accuracy of the offense reported on the registry by providing the charging instrument, the court judgment, and discharge of all registerable offenses
Provide proof of release from every registerable offense sentence by delivering any of the documents listed below:
- An Order of Dismissal from the court of conviction, Deferred Adjudication, or Adjudication of Delinquent Conduct,
- A Certificate of release from the penal institution, or
- A statement written on the agency's letterhead by a supervising officer or discharging agency.
Deregistration is allowed for only certain types of sex crimes. Violent crimes do not typically qualify for this relief.
Sex offenders seeking deregistration may also have to provide evidence that:
- They have only been convicted of one sex crime requiring them to register as sex offenders,
- They have finished the Sex Offender Treatment Program, and
- They have received confirmation from professionals certifying that they do not pose any risk of re-offending.
Sex offenders also have to receive consent from the Texas Council on Sex Offender Registration to obtain deregistration. Their application to the court may include the following:
- A current criminal history check that shows that they have not re-offended;
- A court order describing the original conviction;
- Proof of the victim's age at the time of the offense
- Other documents like the indictment, offense report, and probable cause affidavit.
The court eventually determines whether or not the sex offender is eligible for early termination of sex offender registration.
How to Look Up Sex Offenders in Texas
The Texas Department of Public Safety ("TXDPS") keeps a database of sex offenders for the state via the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry. It contains data provided by sex offenders required to register with various local law enforcement authorities within the state. Following state law, the database is freely accessible by the public. Furthermore, the TXDPS also notifies residents by mail, where a high-risk sex offender or a civilly committed sexually violent predator relocates to a community.
Each local law enforcement authority in Texas also keeps a sex offender database containing information on all sex offenders registered in its jurisdiction. Texas State Law also makes most of the information on local registries open to interested people. Some local authorities provide online access to the public to search for sex offenders, while others do not. Local law enforcement authorities can also publish some offenders in a newspaper, circular, or other periodicals that serve the community where the sex offender resides.
Is Public Urination a Sex Offense in Texas?
Under Texas law, individuals who expose their anus or genitals in a public place with reckless disregard may be accused of indecent exposure. According to the Texas Penal Code, indecent exposure is considered a sexual offense and conviction may require persons to register as sex offenders. Anyone who urinates in a public space where children are nearby or who is a repeat offender is at greater risk of conviction for indecent exposure.
Indecent exposure is a Class B misdemeanor crime in Texas, and the penalty for conviction is any of the following:
- Not more than 180 days of jail term
- Restitution and a $2,000 or above fine
- Community service
How to Report a Sex Offender in Texas
Members of the public are encouraged to report suspicious activity that may indicate criminal or school safety-related threats through the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network website or by calling (844) 643-2251. People are also encouraged to provide their contact information when making a report on the website to follow up. Anyone can report a non-compliant or unregistered sex offender at the federal level by contacting the United States Marshals Service (USMS).
Sex offenders have to register with the law enforcement authority of the county or city they reside in, not later than seven days after they arrive in that county or city. Once registered, they have to regularly report to the local law enforcement authority to verify the registration information and update this information where necessary. Non-compliant sex offenders are liable for felony prosecution with the penalties:
- If an offender is mandated to register for ten years, a failure to register or update reported information results in a state jail felony. The potential jail sentence is between 180 days and two years.
- Offenders mandated to register for life are guilty of a third-degree felony and liable for a jail term of two to ten years upon violation.
- Offenders mandated to register for life and verify their information every 90 days are guilty of a second-degree felony and liable to jail terms of two to twenty years.
The offense may be elevated to the next degree of a felony if:
- The sex offender fraudulently used information on their record, or
- The offender was previously convicted for failure to register.