November 02, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Texas law may allow for the removal of teens from sex offender registry
Often times, when it comes to suspected sex crimes in Texas the mere allegations of wrongdoing can subject the person accused to lifelong stigma. And, for those eventually convicted of alleged sex crimes, the stigma will likely continue as they are forced to register as sex offenders with local law enforcement.
Registering as a sex offender can be particularly difficult for those convicted of sex crimes in their youth simply due to the age of the individuals involved in the sexual relationship. For instance, under Texas law it is still possible for a teenager to face criminal conviction and sex offender registration for engaging in a consensual sexual relationship with another teenager.
However, in 2011, Texas lawmakers passed a law that now makes it possible for many of those teens convicted of sex crimes to remove themselves from the Texas sex offender registry
as long as they satisfy certain requirements.
Romeo and Juliet law in Texas
Often referred to as Romeo and Juliet laws in many jurisdictions, the 2011 law change in Texas expressly states a person previously required to register as a sex offender may petition the court for an order exempting him or her from further registration. Specifically, the individual can deregister as a sex offender if he or she meets particular requirements, the most important of which is for the court to find that the accused individual:
-Was convicted based solely on the ages of those involved in the sexual encounter.
-Was not more than four year older than the alleged victim, and that the alleged victim was at least 15-years-old at the time of the alleged offense.
Thus, this close-in-age exemption would permit an 18-year-old to petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry if he or she was convicted of a sex crime following a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old.
Keep in mind, however, that this law only applies to the registration of teens as sex offenders - it does not protect teens from the underlying sex crime conviction. For instance, it is still illegal in Texas for anyone to have a sexual encounter with someone under the age of 17-years-old, even if the sexual relationship is consensual. Although, an individual accused of violating this law does have a defense if he or she is no more than three older than an alleged victim, who themselves is at least 14-years-old.
Thus, in the situation described earlier, if an 18-year-old is 3 years and 1 day older than a 15-year-old, and the two engage in sexual relations, the 18-year-old may still be convicted of a sex crime - even though he or she will likely avoid registration as a sex offender.
As this article demonstrates, the law surrounding sex offender registration is very complex in Texas. Accordingly, if you are currently facing sex crime charges, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney can review the facts of your case and help ensure your rights are protected.
Article provided by Hines Ranc & Holub
Visit us at www.hinesrancholub.com