An Overview of Sex Crime Laws in Texas
The Texas criminal justice system is usually very strict, particularly on sex crimes. Prosecutors, lawmakers, and judges are pressured by the society to be unforgiving and aggressive on all sex offenders particularly child sex offenders. This is the major reason persons charged with sex crimes in Texas face harsh punishments that don’t often fit a lifetime sex offender registration or many years in prison.
In fact, being convicted as a sex offender can alter the projection of your entire life. This because you’re a likely to deal with a potential time in prison, register as a sex offender, steep fines, undue stress, loss of your freedom, reputation, and your job as well. If you’re facing any sex offense-related charge, it’s imperative you seek a highly competent sex crime attorney in Houston to represent you.
What’s a sex offense?
The following are considered sex crimes according to the Texas Penal Code;
- Child sex offenses such as statutory rape, continuous sex abuse of a child, sex trafficking, aggravated sexual assault, sexual performance by a child, child prostitution, sexting, and more.
- Distribution or possession of child pornography
- Online solicitation of a minor
- Indecency with a kid either by contact or exposure
- Improper teacher-student relationship
- Public lewdness
- Invasive visual recording
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual assault
- Prostitution and promotion of prostitution
- Unlawful promotion or disclosure of intimate visual materials
Under the Texas state law, many sex offenses are considered felonies. If convicted, the punishments of a first-degree felony, state jail felony or second degree felony range from a few years to tens of years in prison, sex offender registration, and steep fines.
Registering as a sex offender
Once convicted as a sex offender, you are required to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program. You’re supposed to share the following details;
- Date of birth
- Your home address
- A complete set of your fingerprints
- The offense convicted of
- A recent color photograph
- The victim’s age
- Details on all online aliases used
- Your employment information
In some adult sex offense cases, the offenders remain registered as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. The law requires juvenile defendants to remain registered for a maximum of ten years after being convicted. Failure to register as a sex offender is a felony.
The Texas law allows the sealing of an offender’s criminal record if they meet the necessary criteria. This is Expungement and eligibility depends on the state. Here are the factors that make expungement a possibility;
- The crime was a minor sex offense, didn’t involve violence, and occurred many years ago.
- The victim was 15 years old or more and you, the offender, was not more than four years older than the victim as of the time of the crime.
- Consensual offense
- The offender passes an individual risk assessment and requests for early termination.
The process of sealing of your criminal records is slightly complex, and you need help from a knowledgeable expungement lawyer.