Houston, Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Jim Sullivan Can Fight for You if You Are Arrested for a Sex Crime. Without an Experienced Defense Lawyer, You May Have to Register As a Sex Offender.
Sex Offender Registration May Change in Texas
To maintain the sex offender registry and to monitor sex offenders costs states a lot of money. Like many states, Texas is struggling with finding ways to cover the costs of treating and monitoring sex offenders.
The Jacob Wetterling Act was passed by Congress in 1994. The Act established guidelines for states to use in drafting their own sex offender registration laws. The federal law was designed to target those who were likely to reoffend and states based their guidelines on that. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWCPSA) was passed by Congress in 2006, and it strengthened most of the requirements which states had already enacted. Congress intended the law to create a uniform program of nationwide sex offender registration.
States are required by AWCPSA to create a three-tiered program of classifying sex offenders. Those offenders convicted of serious crimes and are deemed likely to reoffend are placed in tier three. Those offenders convicted of less serious crimes are placed in tiers one and two.
Lifetime registration will be required of those convicted of tier three offenses. A period of 25 years will be required for tier two offenders and 15 years for tier one offenders.
Presently Texas law requires the state to follow current federal law, specifically the actual criteria required by AWCPSA. The state is now debating whether to follow AWCPSA or to draft its own criteria with regard to forcing sex offenders to register or be taken off of the list of offenders. Only three states are in full compliance, as the law is very controversial. The states that do not enact the tougher requirements have been threatened by Congress to have their grant funding reduced.
According to the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, it would cost Texas nearly $39 million to fully comply with the AWCPSA and to monitor all of the sex offenders who would be forced to register under the Act's criteria.. If the grant money is withheld, Texas would lose only $1.5 million--a huge difference.
The new registration requirement for juvenile offender is very concerning to state officials. Currently, the decision as to whether or not a juvenile has to register lies within the discretion of the judge. Under AWCPSA, there is no such discretion and the juvenile would be required to register if he committed one of the specified crimes. The judge would have no authority to prevent it, and the repercussions for the child could be severe. It may also prevent the juvenile from attending college or finding employment.
Critics contend that the law does not take into account the likelihood of reoffender, as juveniles are much less likely to reoffend. The benefit of requiring registration is far outweighed by the damage done to the juvenile.
If the law is enacted, families could also suffer. The age of consent in Texas is 17, and many times the relationship started before one of the parties reached the age of consent. Even if the parties later marry, the adult would be required to register even though the underlying offense was statutory rape. The likelihood of the adult of later reoffending is very small if not nonexistent but AWCPSA does not take that into account.
Due to cost and effectiveness concerns, the panel recommended against complying with AWCPSA.
To consider the potential for re-offending or removal, the states would like to give risk assessments to each sex offender. The sex offender registry can be put to better use once this information is acquired.
Strict laws are still in place while states debate these issues. Contact an experienced attorney in your area to understand your options if you have been accused of a sex crime or believe you are under police investigation. If convicted, the consequences are dire, and you may be forced to register as a sex offender for life.
While this really is being discussed, strict laws have been in still in position for intercourse offenders. For those who have been accused of the sex criminal offense or learn that you're under law enforcement investigation, contact a skilled attorney in your town to understand the choices open to you. The consequences of the conviction tend to be severe, and you'll be forced to join up as the sex offender for that rest in your life.
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