If you are required to register under the sex offender registration program, you may be eligible to deregister after a minimum required registration period. Your early termination eligibility depends on whether the registrable offense meets certain criteria. In addition, there are certain procedures you must follow and obtain an order granting early termination from a judge. It is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer to help you with the sex offender deregistration process. UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2022: DPS releases a new Tiered Offense List, providing a new opportunity for analysis of early termination of registration obligations.
SEX OFFENDER DEREGISTRATION ATTORNEY FAQs
- How do I know if I qualify for early termination of my obligation to register?
- How do I apply for deregistration / early termination?
- Who does the risk assessment for sex offender deregistration?
- Are there any other ways to deregister from sex offender registration requirements?
- What are the effects of deregistration / early termination?
In the state of Texas, a person who has been convicted of an offense defined as a “sex crime” will be required to register as a sex offender. The ramifications of this registration can be and often are catastrophic to the normal daily functions of life. For many people sex offender registration has resulted in limited employment opportunities, difficult residency restrictions, harassment, social isolation, and just the general negative stigma of being a registered sex offender.
Interested in deregistration? Book a consultation to discuss your eligibility today.
In addition, there are court mandated consequences; you will be required to continue to regularly register as a sex offender in Texas for the prescribed period. Depending on the specific offense, a failure to meet this duty to register can range from a state jail felony, with a maximum of 2 years in state jail, up to a second degree felony with a maximum imprisonment of 20 years. These penalties can be further enhanced if you have prior convictions or used fraudulent identifying information.
Until recently, sex offender deregistration has not been available to anyone. In 2005 the Texas legislature enacted a bill, House Bill 867, that allows for the early termination of the requirement for an individual to register as a sex offender in the State of Texas if it is determined you are no longer a continuing threat to society.
How do I know if I qualify for early termination of my obligation to register as a sex offender?
In order to qualify for early termination of Texas sex offender registration, you must have only a single reportable adjudication or conviction, and that offense must require sex offender registration under Texas CCP Chapter 62 for a period that exceeds the minimum required registration period under federal law.1 A list of all eligible offenses can be found on the the DPS website. A strict reading of the statute reveals that if the offense is not on that list, then it does not qualify, even if it technically requires registration for a period that exceeds the minimum required registration period under federal law.1
Complicating things, however, federal law does not mirror Texas state law, and so certain offenses may sometimes qualify and sometimes not qualify, depending on the circumstances of the particular conviction or adjudication. In addition, the DPS tiered offense chart is not perfectly accurate, and it is supposed to be updated regularly.2 So the eligible offenses list will continue to change.
If your offense is eligible, then you do not automatically qualify for early termination. You are simply eligible to proceed to the next part of the qualifying procedure, the risk assessment. You must undergo a risk assessment in order to qualify for early termination.3 You must also pay for the costs of the evaluation.4 However, there is nothing in the law about whether a high risk determination on the risk assessment will make you legally unqualified to receive early termination.
Finally, you must obtain an Order Granting Early Termination from a judge.5 In order to obtain the order, you must submit a Motion for Early Termination to the judge, and with this motion you must also file a certified copy of the report on the outcome of the risk assessment to the court in addition to a written explanation of the offense eligibility as described above.6 Once you have filed all of this, you must also be granted a hearing by the judge and convince the judge to sign the Order Granting Early Termination.7
How do I apply for deregistration / early termination?
We strongly encourage you to retain a lawyer to help you apply for early termination. The steps below are only a basic overview of the procedure.
A person applies for deregistration by filing a motion for early termination of the person’s obligation to register as a sex offender in the trial court that sentenced that person for the reportable conviction or adjudication.3 This motion for early termination bust also be accompanied by a certified copy of the report on the outcome of the risk assessment to the court in addition to a written explanation of the offense eligibility as described above.8
The Council on Sex Offender Treatment sets the procedures for the risk assessment.9 The procedures that the Council has set include background checks, copies of court orders, a filing fee, and additional court documents if the crime involved a minor. If appropriate, an applicant may also include a letter confirming completion of sex offender treatment or a copy of an order stating they were successfully discharged from community supervision or parole. Learn more about the application for risk assessments on the Council on Sex Offender Treatment Website
Once an application is received, accepted, and an evaluation is made and returned, the applicant can then file a Motion for Early Termination with the appropriate court.
Who does the risk assessment for sex offender deregistration?
The Council on Sex Offender Treatment is tasked with performing the risk assessments.10 However, the Council is authorized to contract with independent, licensed sex offender treatment providers to perform deregistration evaluations.11 The Council, in practice, does enter into these contracts, and it provides a list of authorized providers.
The assessment is supposed to evaluate a person’s criminal history, predict the likelihood of further criminal activity and determine the continuing danger the person poses to the community.12 After conducting the evaluation, the deregistration specialist will send a written report with their conclusions to the Texas Council of Sex Offender Treatment.13
Are there any other ways to deregister from sex offender registration requirements?
You may be eligible to petition the court for a registration exemption if you are registrable because of an Indecency with a Child offense or a Sexual Assault offense and, (1) at the time of the offense, you were not more than four years older than the victim or intended victim and the victim or intended victim was at least 15 years of age and (2) the conviction is based solely on the ages of the defendant and the victim or intended victim at the time of the offense. Specifically, it must be a single reportable adjudication or conviction, the victim was at least 15 years old, the defendant was not more than 4 years older than the victim, and the charges are based solely on the ages of the parties.14
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 62.301 describes a process to petition a court for an exemption to register if you qualify as described above. If you are eligible, then you may petition the court and the court may grant you a hearing.15 If the court grants your petition, then the judge will issue an order exempting you from registration.16 An order exempting you from registration does not expire but the court is required to withdraw the order if you receive a subsequent reportable conviction or adjudication.17
What are the effects of deregistration / early termination?
A person who has been granted early termination in Texas would no longer need to register in Texas18 and, therefore, your noncompliance with the registration requirements is no longer a Texas crime. All conditions relating to this duty to register will be modified on then person’s parole, release to mandatory supervision, or community supervision to reflect the court’s order.19 Successful deregistration does not destroy or remove criminal case records, it specially acts to remove your name from the Texas Sex Offender Registry database and remove your legal requirement to continue to register on a public sex offender database. Learn more about clearing your record
1 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.403(b). “On the written request of a person with a single reportable adjudication or conviction that appears on the list published under Article 62.402(b)” (emphasis added). “Article 62.402(b)” describes the requirement for the Council on Sex Offender Treatment to list all Texas offenses where the registration period is longer than the registration period required under federal law.
2 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.402(c). “To the extent possible, the department shall periodically verify with the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking or another appropriate federal agency or office the accuracy of the list of reportable convictions or adjudications described by Subsection (b).”
3 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.404(a)
4 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.406
5 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.407
6 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Sections 62.404 – 62.405
7 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.405 & 62.407
8 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.404(b)
9 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.403(a)
10 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.403(b). “On the written request of a person with a single reportable adjudication or conviction that appears on the list published under Article 62.402(b), the council shall: (1) evaluate the person using the individual risk assessment tool or group of individual risk assessment tools established, developed, or adopted under Subsection (a)”
11 Texas Administrative Code Title 22, Section 810.306. “The council shall contract with licensed sex offender treatment providers to provide all deregistration evaluation services.”
12 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.403(a)(1)&(2)
13 Texas Administrative Code Title 22, Section 810.307
14 This language comes from Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 42.017 and 42A.105. The applicability of these code sections are referred to by Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.301, as the determining factor in whether a person may file a petition for exemption under Article 62.301.
15 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.301(a)&(c)
16 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.301(d)
17 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.301(e)
18 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 62.407(a)