Sex Offender Registration in Texas

The Texas Sex Offender Registration Program went into effect on September 1, 1991. Each legislative session the Texas Legislature tends to amend the laws that affect this program. The law requires adult and juvenile sex offenders to register with local law enforcement in the city where they reside or if they do not reside within a city limits, offenders must register with a county law enforcement agency.

Registration requires the sex offender to provide local law enforcement their name, address, a color photograph, and the offense for which the offender was convicted or adjudicated for. Registered sex offenders are also required to periodically report to local law enforcement to verify the accuracy of their registration information and to promptly report any changes. Information that is reported by the sex offender is available for the public to view. A registered sex offender who fails to comply with any of these requirements can face a sexual crime felony prosecution.

Who is required to register as a sex offender in Texas?

Chapter 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure governs the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program. A person with any of the following must register:

  • “reportable conviction or adjudication”,
  • required to register as a condition of parole or release to mandatory supervision,
  • required to register as a condition of community supervision (probation), or
  • is an “extrajurisdictional registrant”.

Reportable Convictions or Adjudications

Article 62.001(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure defines “reportable conviction or adjudication” as a conviction or adjudication, including adjudication of delinquent conduct or a deferred adjudication that, regardless of the pendency of an appeal, is a conviction for or an adjudication for or based on:

  • Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children (Penal Code 21.02)
  • Indecency with a Child (21.11)
  • Sexual Assault (22.011)
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault (22.021)
  • Prohibited Sexual Conduct (25.02)
  • Compelling Prostitution (43.05)
  • Sexual Performance by a Child (43.25)
  • Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography (43.26)
  • Aggravated Kidnapping (20.04(a)(4))
  • Burglary (30.02(d) with intent to commit a felony in paragraph (A) or (C))
  • Unlawful Restraint (20.02)
  • Kidnapping (20.03)
  • Second violation of Indecent Exposure (21.08)
  • Online Solicitation of Minor (33.021)
  • Trafficking of Persons (20A.02(a)(3), (4), (7), or (8))

How long does a sex offender have to register?

Adult sex offenders must register either for life or ten years following discharge from state supervision (incarceration, parole, or community supervision). A lifetime duty to register applies to the following offenses:

  • 1) a “sexually violent offense”–the following are considered sexually violent offenses:
    • Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children (Penal Code 21.02)
    • Indecency with a Child (21.11)
    • Sexual Assault (22.011)
    • Aggravated Sexual Assault (22.021)
    • Sexual Performance by Child (43.25)
    • Aggravated Kidnapping, if committed with the intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually (20.04(a)(4))
    • Burglary (30.02), if a habitation and committed with the intent to commit continuous sexual abuse, indecency, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, prohibited sexual conduct, or aggravated kidnapping committed with the intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually.
  • 2) trafficking of persons (20A.02(a)(3),(4),(7), or (8);
  • 3) prohibited sexual conduct (25.02);
  • 4) compelling prostitution of a minor (43.05(a)(2);
  • 5) possession or promotion of child pornography (43.26);
  • 6) unlawful restraint (20.02), kidnapping (20.03), or aggravated kidnapping (20.04) and 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 for an offense or conduct that requires registration.
  • 7). obscenity (43.23), if the punishment is increased due to obscene material visually depicting a child engaging in sexually explicit activities.

An adult convicted, adjudicated, or placed on community supervision for a registerable offense that does not require lifetime registration, then registration for 10 years is required.

Juvenile sex offenders, those who register on the basis of an adjudication of delinquent conduct, register until the 10th anniversary of the date on which the disposition of their case was made or the juvenile completes the terms of the disposition, whichever date is later. Juvenile sex offenders who register on the basis of a conviction or deferred adjudication in a juvenile case that was transferred to a district or criminal district court, register until the 10th anniversary of the date on which the offender was discharged from state supervision or the juvenile completes the terms of the disposition, whichever date is later.

What happens if someone fails to register as a sex offender?

It is a felony if a person required to register fails to comply with any requirement under the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program.

What types of restrictions do sex offenders have?

The Texas Sex Offender Registration Program does not prohibit registered sex offenders from living or going near places frequented by children, However, Texas probation, parole, and city ordinance laws may impose something called a “child safety zone”. A “child safety zone” prohibits certain people from going in, on, or within specified distances of a place where children commonly gather such as a school, playground, or daycare.

If a registered sex offender has a reportable conviction or adjudication for a “sexually violent offense” and there is affirmative finding that the victim was under 14 years of age, the offender cannot:

  • operate a bus, taxicab, limo, or amusement ride
  • provide a service in a residence without supervision

Can a sex offender get an exemption or terminate their duty to register?

Juvenile sex offenders may seek a court order exempting them from registration or classifying their registration information as nonpublic. The exemption for adult offenders is much more limited. An adult offender may ask a court for exemption from registration only if the offenses resulted in a conviction or deferred adjudication probation for indecency with a child (21.11) or sexual assault (22.011); the victim was at least 15 years old and the offender was not more than four years older than the victim at the time of the offense, and the conduct was consensual. Adult sex offenders may ask a court for early termination from registration under some limited circumstances.