When you are convicted of a sex crime that requires registering as a sex offender in Texas, you face an emotionally difficult and often complex task. You will need to meet with the appropriate local law enforcement agency to fill out a comprehensive sex offender registration form, provide an up-to-date photograph, and have your fingerprints taken. Initially, this may not sound like a heavy burden, yet it becomes an issue when you realize you must take this step every place you live for more than one week.
Even one small misstep in Texas’ reporting requirements can result in very serious felony charges. If you find yourself a defendant for failing to register as a sex offender, do not hesitate and seek legal advice and representation from a Houston sex offender attorney immediately.
At the Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we understanding how overwhelming and complex sex offender registration requirements in Texas can be and that innocent mistakes often lead to unnecessary charges.
What Does it Mean to Fail to Register?
You will need to register with the local police force after you are released from prison and whenever you move to a new county or city, visit friends or family for more than one week, or go on vacation somewhere for more than one week. Even if you do not move or travel, you will have to check in with your local police at certain intervals. In most situations, you will need to update your registration each year. However, if you have two more sexual offense convictions, you will report every 90 days. Depending on your convictions, you may need to continue this for 10 years or even the rest of your life.
Failing to register as a sex offender when required to do so under Texas law can mean a number of things. First, it may mean that you did not show up when you were supposed to, including:
- Initially registering as a sex offender in the state,
- Registering when you move to Texas from out of state,
- Registering prior to moving to a new area or traveling within Texas,
- Updating your registration at the required time.
Failing to register also includes registering with incomplete, misleading, or false information. If you show up to register initially or update your information with your supervising law enforcement agency, yet you do not completely and accurately fill out the forms or answer their questions, you will be deemed to have not registered. You could be charged with a crime for withholding seemingly insignificant information like an online username or a side-job you took on.
Felony Charges for Failing to Register
Under Article 62.102, if you are required to register and you fail to comply with all of the requirements of doing so, then you can be charged with a felony. The level of the felony will depend on why you were required to register.
- For a crime that required you to register each year for 10 years, you face a state jail felony.
- For a crime that required you to register every year for life, you face a third-degree felony.
- For a crime that required you to register every 90 days for life, you face a second-degree felony.
The charge for failing to register will be increased to the next highest degree of felony if prosecutors can show that you were previously convicted of failing to register, you attempted to not register in the past, or that you used or attempted to use fraudulent identifying information while failing to register or trying to avoid registration.
Statutory Penalties for Failing to Register
If you are convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, you face fines, revocation or parole or probation, and additional years in prison.
- For a state jail felony, you can be jailed for 180 days or up to 2 years and fined $10,000.
- For a third-degree felony, you will be imprisoned for 2 to 10 years and fined $10,000.
- For a second-degree felony, you will be imprisoned for 2 to 20 years and fined $10,000.
If you were required to register for every 90 days for life and an additional circumstance raised this offense to a first-degree felony, you face a minimum of 5 years and up to life in prison.
Preventing Common Failures
When you are given the opportunity to build a new life for yourself, you should not let a small slip up or inadvertent error take away your freedom for years or the rest of your life. You should make a conscious attempt to thoroughly understand your registration requirements and strictly adhere to them.
Common registration errors to avoid include:
- Not determining the appropriate law enforcement agency to register with
- Not registering soon enough after being released from prison
- Not checking in with your law enforcement agency when planning to move or travel
- Not registering with the new jurisdiction soon enough after a move
- Not registering with the jurisdiction in which you are visiting for more than one week
- Not updating your registration when key personal information has changed
- Not checking in with your law enforcement agency at the designated intervals
Defending Against a Failure to Register Offense
If you are charged with failing to register because of a mistake like contacting the wrong agency within a city or accidentally missing an appointment with a supervisor, you can defend yourself by offering proof that the incident was an innocent mistake and that you have consistently done your best to comply with the registration requirements.
Contact a Houston Sex Offender Attorney Today
Do not let failure to register charges ruin your life and send you back to prison. Work with experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer Ned Barnett. With more than 30 years of experience as a federal and state prosecutor and criminal lawyer, attorney Barnett understands Texas law, how to analyze your situation, and the best defenses available to you under the law. He is ready and willing to fight these charges.