Most Texans understand that conviction for any one of a number of sex crimes will also require that the guilty defendant enter the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program, but very few people understand exactly how the program works.
The sex offender program is intended to protect members of the public from minors and adults who have been convicted of a sex crime; therefore the statute requires every adult and minor who has been convicted of a sex crime to enter their names and addresses in a register kept by the law enforcement authority in the city where they live. If the registrant does not live in a city, he or she must register with the law enforcement authority in the county where they live. Any sex offender who fails to register is guilty of a felony and may be prosecuted accordingly.
Notice to the public
Communicating the membership of the sex offender registry occurs in one of several ways. The State of Texas maintains a statewide sex offender database which is provided to law enforcement authorities across the state. The information in the data base is then made available to the public at no charge to the person requesting access to the information. Some law enforcement authorities have created websites that allow members of the public to search the data base for information about sex offenders that may be living in a particular city or county. If a high risk sex offender or a sexually violent predator who has been civilly committed moves into a community, the Department of Public Safety will mail a notice to each residence and business in the community containing pertinent information about the predator. A sex offender must re-register if he has been released from prison and moves to a city or county in which he has not previously been registered.
How long is a name kept on the registry?
One of the most striking aspects of the sex offender registry program is that, depending upon the crime for which the person has been committed, the registration requirement may follow the convicted criminal for the rest of his life. A competent criminal attorney may be able to significantly limit the duration of the registration requirement.