Sex Crime Law in Texas

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A sex crime is a sexual act that the victim does not want and does not consent to.  In the case of minors in Texas under 18, a sex crime is any sexual activity.  For example, a Texas man became a sex offender for sexual solicitation of a minor via Internet, receiving 10 years probation.  As a result of crimes like this, Texas has enacted new statutes increasing punishment for sexual communication with a minor. 

Registration as a Sex Offender

Pursuant to the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program, sex offenders must provide updated information, including but not limited to: a color photograph, address, conviction and punishment, shoe size, driver’s license number, etc., to local law enforcement agencies.  Most sex offenses require lifetime registry, but some lesser offenses allow the offender’s name to be stricken after 10 years.  Failure to register is a felony punishable by more than 1 year in prison. 

Texas’ total population of sex offenders is 48,595, which is smaller than California’s 109,000.  Sex offenders in Texas must re-register at their local police or sheriff’s station within 7 days of their birthday every year, when they move, and when they attend school. 

Most of the sex offenders registered in Texas were convicted of “indecency with child contact.”  Thus, in 2007, Texas passed Jessica’s Law, which greatly increases penalties for pedophiles, including the death penalty for second-time child rapes.  However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision banning the death penalty for child rapes overrules this part of Texas’s Jessica’s Law.   

Expunction of Criminal Records

Texas permits the expunction (sealing from public view) of criminal records for certain misdemeanor sex crimes, once the registration period has passed.  Important factors include the completion of probation, whether it is a juvenile record, and whether the record is of arrest or conviction.  Another factor is the seriousness of the crime: public lewdness is sealable, but possession of child pornography or any sex crime involving a child absolutely is not. 

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Last Modified: 08-19-2011 03:35 PM PDT

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