The state of Texas deals with sex offenders through the use of their registration program which is backed by chapter 62 of their Code of Criminal Procedure. This article will look at the basic laws of the state including how offenders are kept track of, the duration of their registration and what rules they must abide by. The goal of the registration program is to protect the public by allowing them to identify and locate sexual predators.
Registration and Dissemination of Information
All individuals who have been convicted of a sexually motivated crime will have to verify their name and home address to the public along with the crime they committed. In addition, the information is accompanied by an updated picture of the individual. Anytime changes are made to their information it must be reported as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is a felony for the convicted individual not to register or update their personal information. In addition to sexual offenders registering their information, it must also be provided to the public for easy access.
One mode of access includes a database that keeps track of all sex offenders across the state of Texas. The database consists of mostly all the information provided to the law enforcement agencies. Each local law enforcement agency also provides records of the sex offenders located in their jurisdiction. Then, each local law enforcement agency is able to publish and distribute sex offender information to their residents in newspapers. Another way information is distributed is by mailing all residents postcards if the offender has committed a sexually violent act in the past.
Also important to consider is how long an offender must by required to verify their information. It depends on the sexual crime they committed, but offenders will have to register anywhere from ten years to life. For example, the difference between ten years and life is the difference between indecent exposure and rape.
Parole and Probation
When a sexual offender is on parole they must periodically check in with their parole officer. Also, they can never be less than five hundred feet from a place where children are known to be such as a school, playground, public swimming pool or a daycare facility. An offender who is on probation may be forced to follow those same rules depending on what they were convicted of. However, when they are no longer on probation these same regulations will not apply to them.
The amount and the duration of the restrictions placed on an offender is indicated by their level of risk which is designated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The Department established a risk analysis review committee that screens each individual offender to classify the as either a high, moderate or low level of risk to the community. The committee will always have one member with law enforcement experience, one who works with juvenile sex offenders, one who provides treatment and one who works with victims.
The levels of classification are selected based on a point system. The low level offenders do not pose much danger and are unlikely to commit another offense. Moderate level offenders may continue to commit sexually motivated offenses and high level offenders will most likely commit another sexual offense. The next level of classification is civil commitment which includes any individual who habitually commits sexually violent acts. Thus, they require constant monitoring since they suffer from mental abnormalities. Further, the high level of risk an offender poses to the community the more often they will have to check in with their local law enforcement agency.