There was a time when individuals charged with certain crimes can find themselves on the Texas sex offender registry for varying periods of time. Plea deals often involved sex offender registration for certain lengths of time to avoid harsher sentencing and longer periods of registration. These plea deals may have also involved a provision to have the registration removed from a defendant’s record.
The recent expansion of sex offender laws in Texas, however, has made removal more difficult.
However, according to Statesman News, at least four Texas sex offenders have successfully had their names removed from the sex offender registry list.
Lengthy legal battles were necessary to protect deals these previous offenders made with prosecutors prior to a change in the law that now requires sex offenders to register for life.
This begs an interesting question: Can you have your name taken off the state sex offender list? If so, how does that work?
There are some sex crime cases where Texas will allow you to have your name removed from the sex offender registry without a court battle. Here’s what you need to know about that process.
What is the Texas Sex Offender Registry?
In Texas, a public list of people who are convicted of specific sex crimes was created (and is maintained) by the state. The Department of Public Safety oversees this registry and makes it searchable online by the offender’s name, address, date of birth, institute of higher education, county, and zip code.
Any person convicted of sex offenses including indecency with a child, possession of child pornography, sexual assault, among others might be required under state law to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registry as a part of their sex crime sentencing.
The purpose of the registry is to serve as a tool for educators, parents, or any member of the public to learn if someone on the registry is living near them or near their schools.
What Does Deregistering as a Sex Offender Mean in Texas?
Deregistration is when you have your name taken off of the state Sex Offender Registry. It also means you do not have to register in the future for any public sex offender registry.
There are also several things that deregistration does not accomplish. It will not:
- Appeal your conviction in any way
- Have an impact on your parole or probation
- Erase legal requirements for disclosure of sex crime convictions to potential employers
- Allow you to be employed at a place that involves children
- Release your DNA from law enforcement databases
Who is Eligible to Deregister from the Texas Sex Offender Registry?
There are only certain sex offenses that are eligible for deregistration under the Texas Department of Public Safety.
You can file a motion with a judge that allows them to grant early termination of just the legal requirement of characterization as a sex offender for the registry only. The judge has the discretion and the legal authority to grant this request only when evidence proves that:
- The time required for registration as a sex offender on the registry is, under federal law, less time than under Texas law
- The defendant has had no more than one conviction or deferred adjudication for a sex crime on their record
- The offender has completed the Sex Offender Treatment Program
- The offender is of little to no risk of re-offending, as offered through a letter by a professional
- The underlying conviction that resulted in the registration is based in Texas law
It’s also important to remember that only certain crimes are eligible for the deregistration process. No violent crimes are eligible.
Commonly, these sex crimes are eligible under Texas law for deregistration from the Sex Offender Registry:
- Promotion or possession of child pornography
- Sexual performance of a child
- Indecent exposure
- Compelling prostitution from a victim under age 17
- Online solicitation of a minor
- Unlawful restraint of a victim under the age of 17
There may be other situations in which sex offenders can deregister, but those cases are often looked at on their own merit and there’s no guarantee that deregistration will be granted. If you are interested in deregistration from the Texas Sex Offenders Registry, then it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney to understand your options.
The Process to Get Deregistered in Texas
The deregistration process is complex overall, but the steps you must follow are fairly straightforward. You must:
- Obtain approval from the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment
- File a motion with a criminal court judge where your criminal trial took place
- After that, the judge will decide how to proceed.
Registration on the Sex Offender Registry can impact nearly every aspect of your life. If you think you may be eligible for deregistration, then it’s something you should pursue. The process of deregistering in Texas is one that can help you live a more private life.