Can Juveniles be Registered Sex Offenders in Texas?Published: Nov 04, 2019 in Juvenile Crimes
Texas takes sexual offenses seriously, and if your child is under 17 and charged with a sex crime, they may not escape mandatory sex offender registration – even in the juvenile court system.
When individuals between 10 and 16 years old are charged with a crime they will appear in juvenile court, where instead of a guilty verdict they receive an adjudication as delinquent. The consequences of being delinquent can vary, and usually include counseling, community service, and in the most serious cases, detention. However, when the offense involves sexual misconduct, the juvenile court may also require a delinquent juvenile to register as a sex offender.
Fortunately, the juvenile court system allows ample opportunity to avoid registration as a sex offender. You may request a hearing to challenge registration, and if you show good cause, the court may release you from this obligation. Juvenile sex offense charges can have serious consequences, and the best way to avoid them is by hiring an experienced Houston juvenile sex crime lawyer.
Challenging a Juvenile’s Registration as a Sex Offender
Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Civil Procedure explains the registration requirements for Texas sex offenders. Articles 62.351-356 apply to juveniles specifically, and lay out the process for challenging the registration requirements.
Keep in mind that if a plea agreement is reached with the prosecutor, this agreement may either consent to or release a juvenile from sex offender registration. Consenting to registration effectively waives the right to a hearing–unless the court decides to force a hearing on the issue.
After being adjudicated delinquent for a sex offense, a lawyer can file a motion to request a hearing about sex offender registration. The goal of this hearing is for the court to determine if it would be in the interests of the public for someone to register.
The goal of this is to show that:
- The protection of the public would not be increased be sex offender registration; OR
- Any increase in public safety is clearly outweighed by the harm it would cause the juvenile and their family.
To meet this burden of proof, your attorney can present evidence, witness testimony, legal arguments, and the contents of a social history report. This report might include conclusions of a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. If their conclusions do not support removal, you can present second opinions from other mental health professionals that are hired independently.
Depending on the case, the prosecutor may challenge the juvenile’s removal, so it’s best to come prepared with the most convincing evidence possible.
After the hearing, the court may enter an order to put the registration on hold until the juvenile has completed any treatment or detention that was part of their sentence. During this time, the court will follow their progress and retain the ability to either reinstate or release them from registration –depending on their successful completion of treatment or detention.
Alternatively, the court can require sex offender registration, but order that the juvenile’s information not be made public information. Their photo, address, offense, and other registration information may be accessed by law enforcement and criminal justice agencies but not the general public. One drawback is that public or private institutions of higher education can also access this information, which can impact their ability to apply for college.
Requesting Removal from the Sex Offenders List
If a juvenile is already registered as a sex offender because of a prior adjudication in Texas or another state, you can still request a hearing for removal. As with the hearing that occurs after adjudication, one can seek two remedies: removal from the sex offenders list or an order that the information not be made public. A copy of either motion must be provided to the prosecutor, who may choose to contest the hearing.
Contact Attorney Ned Barnett
A juvenile’s sex offender registration requirement won’t go away on its own. And, if you ignore the registration requirements, it can result in new felony charges. If your child has been adjudicated delinquent or is currently facing charges for a Texas sex offense, their best option is to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer.