In Texas, convicted sex offenders must register for either ten years or life. The ten-year clock does not begin ticking until after these defendants complete their sentences in full. In general, sexually violent crimes or offenses involving children usually mean lifetime registration. Any others may only require ten-year registration.
Some states also have different reporting requirements based on the offender’s risk status. For example, “low risk” offenders may not need to publicly register. Texas has these same categories. Although they have no bearing on the registration requirement itself, they have a significant bearing on CCP 62.401 early termination of registration requirement petitions.
Offender Risk Levels
Regardless of the offense committed, Texas law places offenders into three different categories:
· Low Risk (Level I): The offender poses almost no danger to the community and is not likely to commit further acts of sexual misconduct.
· Moderate Risk (Level II): There is a moderate danger to the community because the person may reoffend. Most people are in this second category.
· High Risk (Level III): The offender poses a serious risk to the community and the risk of re-offense is very, very high. High risk offenders go on the public notification list. When these individuals move, neighbors receive notice in the mail.
To evaluate risk, the state usually looks at the offender’s criminal history, the severity of the offense, the defendant’s remorse over the crime, any extenuating circumstances, and other factors.
Early Termination Process
Any registration requirement, even at low or moderate risk levels, often has a debilitating effect on the defendants and their families. Arguably, no other offense carries as much of a stigma. So, if there is a possibility of early termination, it’s usually best to try.
First, the defendant must file a petition with the sentencing court. This petition must include one of the above-described risk assessments. In most cases, there is either no assessment in the file or it is hopelessly outdated. So, petitioners must almost always pay for new assessments.
If that assessment comes back as high risk, there is pretty much no chance that the judge will allow early termination. If the defendant is at Level I, there is almost no chance that the judge will deny the petition. Level II cases are in the middle, so an attorney must normally present additional evidence.
If the judge grants the petition, it takes effect after the defendant has paid for the risk assessment and all other associated court costs. That cost varies, but it is usually just over $1,000. Most risk assessments are around $800.
Early termination of registration requirements may be available in some cases. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle cases in Parker County and nearby jurisdictions.