Interviewer: You mentioned a sex offender registry. Does that happen only if there is a conviction?
Attorney Churak: In Texas we have 2 types of registrations for an adult. We have a 10 year registration and that’s for a lesser offense such as indecent exposure. A second offense is a 10 year registration. Most registrations in Texas for any kind of sex offense are a lifetime registration. That means that for the rest of your life, you’ve got to go down to the police station every year and register as a sex offender. Your name is on the Internet, people know exactly where you live and you’re a registered sex offender.
It doesn’t matter what offense it is. I’ve had a client that was 3 years and 10 days older than the girl he had sex with. In other words, he was 18 and she was 14. He was 350 days just outside the window but unfortunately it was sexual assault of a child. He had to do lifetime registration and there’s no exception to it because it’s one of the strict liability cases.
Now there is some provision in Texas law where they can get off registration and that’s something that’s come up in the last 5 or 6 years. There’s 2 ways you can qualify such as in that scenario I just mentioned.
It is called the Romeo and Juliet law and if the child is 15 and there’s a 4 year age difference between the parties, that they can get off of registration or not have to be required for to register if it was consensual.
The other type is for certain offenses, such as indecency with a child by contact or some online solicitation cases. You may be able to terminate registration. There is a provision under Texas law after 10 years where you could file an application with the counsel of sex offenders and often, get an evaluation done. It is possible to file a motion within the convicting court to see if the judge will let you off the registration.
That’s just something brand new. It’s happening. I’ve got a number of them working but it’s something I don’t know where it’s going to go. This is because I foresee a lot of elected judges in Texas having a hard time letting registered sex offenders off the registry. I just think that’s a political nightmare for them. I don’t know where that’s going to go.
Hopefully, you can have the case before a judge who’s retiring, not going to run for a reelection or he’s lost election, and then proceed with your motion.
Interviewer: That’s sad because there are apparent virtues in the case and the person.
Attorney Churak: I agree and as I mentioned, there are a lot of innocent people that were convicted or were received probation for indecency with a child by contact because they didn’t want to fight the case in court. They were afraid because if they did they were looking at potentially going to prison so they jumped on a probation or plea bargain agreement. They now have this offense on their record for the rest of their life.