California passed the first sex offender registration law way back in 1947. These laws became increasingly common beginning in the 1980s, culminating with the federal Jacob Wetterling Act in 1994. Patty Wetterling, who lobbied extensively for this legislation following the death of her son, now condemns sex offender registration laws as overly harsh. But that's the subject of another blog.
More importantly for this blog, as far as many people are concerned, all sex offenders are the same. It does not matter if they forcibly raped an underage girl or absent-mindedly stepped outside when they got out of the shower.
Registration has significant consequences, to say the least. Most former sex offenders find it very difficult to get through life. Ordinary things, like finding a job and finding a place to live, are almost impossible. And, there is constant police officer and community scrutiny, even after these individuals have served their time.
For these reasons, sex offender delisting is a very important part of a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney's job. In Texas, this action is often rather straightforward.
Former offenders are eligible for delisting if the Council on Sex Offender Treatment determines they are eligible for relief. Such eligibility usually hinges on two things:
Only One Conviction: If a defendant has two or more sex offense convictons on his or her record, delisting is imposisble. So, if you already have one such conviction, your attorney must pull out all the stops to prevent another one from going on your record. Deferred adjudication sometimes, but not always, qualifies as a conviction.
Treatment Completion: The defendant must have successfully completed both the treatment itself and any required aftercare. If the aftercare is ongoing, such as not living in certain places, the applicant must present the proper verification.
An attorney helps applicants not only assemble the required evidence, but also present it in the most compelling way possible.
Obtain an Evaluation
Technically, any qualified professional can perform this evaluation. But only certain professionals hold sway with the CSOT. And, since this body looks at every application and gives it a thumbs up or thumbs down, it's important to select the right therapist.
Generally, this person must be well-qualified. Board certification is usually a good thing. Furthermore, this person must not have a reputation as one who rubber-stamps delisting applications.
Usually, these evaluations take about four hours. There are both oral and written components to the test.
File a Petition
If the CSOT approves the application, the defendant may file a petition with the court requesting delisting. Generally, only the sentencing court, or a court of similar jurisdiction, has the authority to do so.
The success or failure of this application often hinges on the probation or parole officer's recommendation. If this official gives his or her blessing, Tarrant County prosecutors normally do not oppose the petition.
Submit the Order
Do not overlook this last step. The delisting order is not a magic wand which eliminates all records. Defendants must submit the order to the DPS.
Attorneys continue to advocate for defendants even after the judge signs the order. An attorney knows what buttons to push with the DPS to have the matter addressed. Furthermore, an attorney can resolve any disputes or speed up any delays.
A sex offense conviction does not necessarily mean a lifetime registration term. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Tarrant County and nearby jurisdictions.