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Texas Penalties for Sex Offenders with Priors

Published: Nov 05, 2020 in Sex Crimes

When someone is convicted of a sex crime in Texas, and punished with imprisonment, probation, and sex offender registration, it is to both punish and prevent them from committing similar crimes. However, people often find themselves accused and charged with subsequent sex offenses after being released despite these efforts. Is this due to the stigma attached to sex crime convictions or are sex offenders’ risk at a higher of reoffending?

Committing any sex offense is a serious crime. But a second sex crime charge will lead to even harsher statutory penalties and consequences. When individuals are being accused of reoffending, it is essential to work with an experienced and aggressive Houston sex crime lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett.

Contact us at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free, confidential case consultation.

Sex Offender Recidivism

Recidivism is the term given to subsequent illegal behavior after someone experienced legal consequences intended to prevent unlawful behavior from occurring again. Recidivism is not a rate of how many people break the law two or more times. Rather, it is the rate of individuals who break the law again, despite efforts to correct their behavior.

A large study of recidivism looked at the rate of reoffending in 9,691 male sex offenders. There was an overall 5.3% recidivism rate. About 3.5% were convicted of a subsequent sex crime, and 24% were convicted of a different kind of offense during that time. A little more than 38% returned to prison within three years because of a new crime or violating a condition of their release. Additionally, 17.1% were re-arrested for a violent crime, and 43% were arrested for another offense.

Another study looked at 4,724 sex offenders from the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. The researchers used both new charges and convictions and found the recidivism rates at five, 10, and 15 years later were 14, 20, and 24%, respectively. As a result, the likelihood of reoffending decreased the longer the offender went without another offense. Also, first-time offenders had a lower 15-year recidivism rate than those with previous sex crime convictions.

Limitations on Recidivism Rates

While actual and projected recidivism rates can be useful, they are not concrete. Studies regarding sex offenses vary by a number of factors, including the population, methods, and follow-up periods. For example, recidivism rates increase the longer the follow-up periods. Studies with follow-ups in five or fewer years have far lower rates than those with 10 or 15-year follow-ups. Studies have found recidivism rates vary between about five to 24 percent.

Different sex offenses also have different rates. Rather than looking at someone originally convicted of sexual assault who is charged with child pornography later, it is better to look at types of offenses, risk levels, and other demographics.

Another issue is that many sex offenders commit additional criminal acts that are not actually a sex offense. Many sex offenders engage in other criminal behavior, which could lead to additional offenses that do not have sexual components. Additionally, the second or subsequent crime may not appear to be a sex offense, yet it could have had a sexual element for that individual. For instance, should failure to register count as a subsequent offense?

It is also difficult to measure how many individuals commit two or more sex crimes because of low reporting rates. Many sex crimes go unreported by victims or are not prosecuted due to a lack of evidence. An individual may never come to the authorities’ attention, or an individual could re-offend and this would not be measured because it did not lead to an arrest, prosecution, or conviction.

Are Sex Offenders Likely to Reoffend?

Overall, it is impossible to predict whether an individual will commit another sexual offense.

Unfortunately, much of the public and even those in the legal industry are misinformed and believe sex offender recidivism rates are much higher. This not only leads to stigma and discrimination, but it also promotes false accusations against individuals who must register as sex offenders when sex crimes are committed in their communities.

Penalties for Repeat Sex Offenses

Repeat sex crime charges are applied to those who have at least one prior conviction in their record and are now accused of another. These can be for previous misdemeanors or felonies, and the potential penalties can be drastically increased depending on the circumstances.

Here are some scenarios that may apply:

  • If you were convicted of a third-degree or higher felony and face another third-degree felony, the new conviction will be treated as if it were a second-degree felony.
  • When previously convicted of a third-degree or higher felony and now a second-degree felony, the new felony will be sentenced like a first-degree felony.
  • If you have a prior third-degree or higher conviction and now face a first-degree felony, it will be treated as a capital felony. This means a minimum of 15 years in prison.
  • When you have at least 2 prior state jail convictions and now face a felony, it will be punished as a third-degree felony.

When it comes to certain repeat sexual offenses, additional convictions can result in a life sentence, even with only one prior conviction for that offense. These offenses include:

If you have any convictions for these crimes in your record, it is essential to hire an attorney experienced in defending repeat offender cases if you are accused again. Otherwise, you could find yourself dealing with a potential lifetime behind bars.

Accused Again? Contact Attorney Barnett

If you are a sex offender being accused of committing another crime, call a Houston sex offense lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett immediately. This could be the difference in explaining a misunderstanding, clearing your name, or negotiating for a favorable result. As a former prosecutor with decades of experience and a track record of successfully defending alleged repeat sex offenders, Ned Barnett knows what you’re up against and how to help.

Contact us today at (713) 222-6767 for a free and confidential case consultation.