Any time a juvenile is accused of a crime, the consequences could have a serious and long term effect. However, when a person under age 17 is charged with a sexual offense, he or she could potentially be required to register as a sex offender. This is a penalty that can carry over into adult life.
In Texas, whether a minor who was under the age of 18 at the time of his or her offense pleads guilty to, is convicted of or has received deferred adjudication in regards to a sexual crime, that person still could be forced to register as a sex offender.
Although the criminal justice system is different for juveniles, they could be required to register as a sex offender until the 10th anniversary of the date on which the disposition of their case was made or the terms of the disposition were completed, whichever date is later. This is the protocol for adult offenders.
However, depending on how the person was tried and what the alleged crime was, a juvenile could be required to register as a sex offender for a longer period of time. Additionally, if a juvenile is tried as an adult and convicted of certain offenses in Texas, it could mean a lifetime registration.
In Texas, a person could be required to register as a sex offender for life if he or she is convicted of:
• Trafficking a person or multiple people
• Prohibited sexual conduct
• Possession or promotion of child pornography
• Compelling prostitution of a minor
Texas is one of the harshest states when it comes to juvenile sex offender registration because the information is considered public. Unlike states where the information only is available to law enforcement and officials, anyone can see who is on the registry in Texas.
When a person registers, he or she is required to provide a plethora of personal information, including name, date of birth, sex and other identifying characteristics, such as height, weight, hair and eye color and shoe size. The person also must provide an address, driver’s license number, phone number and numerous other personal details.
Once this information is provided, it is available to the public. This means the information is available when a juvenile applies for a job, applies to a university or other educational institute or seeks housing somewhere. This registration could be a heavy burden even in adult life.
Being classified as a registered sex offender in Texas could restrict where a person may live in the future. Any time he or she has an address change, it must be reported and it will become public knowledge. If members of a community learn of the sex offender status, there could be acts of violence against the juvenile sex offender.
However, not all juvenile sex offenders are required to register in Texas. Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 62.352, a court can exempt a juvenile offender from registering as a sex offender if he or she shows that registration would not increase the protection of the public.
A court also could exempt a juvenile if it can be proven the anticipated substantial harm to the alleged offender or his or her family as a result of the registration outweighs any potential increase in protection of the public resulting from registration. A Texas juvenile sex crimes defense lawyer can make a case against the penalty.