In the United States, each state is required to maintain a sex offender registration program by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). SORNA is a federal law that creates minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in each state. States are allowed to put additional laws in place, but each state’s sex offender registration and notification program must at least meet the minimum standards established in SORNA.

Texas Sex Offender Registration Program

The Texas Sex Offender Registration Program is a sex offender registration and public notification law that requires adult and juvenile sex offenders to register with the local law enforcement authority in the city where they live.

Registration laws require sex offenders to provide law enforcement with certain information, including:

Registered sex offenders must immediately report to local law enforcement certain changes to this information, and they are also required to periodically verify the continued accuracy of the registration information.

Which Sex Offenses Require Registration?

The rules for who has to register as a sex offender in Texas are found in the Texas code of criminal procedure, not the penal code where most of the state’s criminal offenses are listed.

In Texas, you are required to register as a sex offender if you have a reportable conviction for any of the following sex offenses:

*You are also required to register as a sex offender if you are convicted of attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or soliciting someone else to commit this offense.

In addition to people who receive criminal convictions under one of these statutes, juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent for any of these offenses are also considered convicted sex offenders and are required to register. 

You are also required to register as a sex offender in Texas if you have been convicted in another jurisdiction of sex crimes containing elements that are substantially similar to the elements of these offenses.

How Long Are Sex Offenders Required to Register?

Under state law, sex offenders are either required to register for 10 years or life. Convictions for the following sex offenses require lifetime registration:

Sex offenders convicted of offenses not listed above must register for 10 years from the date of whichever of the following occurs the latest:

What Are the Penalties for Failing to Register?

Sex offenders who fail to comply with any registration requirement can be prosecuted for a felony offense. Failure to register as a sex offender can be a state jail felony, or a third, second, or first degree felony, depending on how long the sex offender is required to register, if they have failed to register before, and if they fraudulently used identifying information.

How Does Public Notification Work?

SORNA requires states to have methods in place to notify the public about sex offenders who live in their area. In Texas, the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program accomplishes public notification in a variety of ways.

Public Sex Offender Registration Database

The Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) maintains a statewide sex offender registration database that contains all information provided to Texas law enforcement authorities by registered sex offenders. Texas law specifically requires most registration information provided by sex offenders to be freely available to the public, so TXDPS maintains a website that allows anyone to access information about registered sex offenders.

Public Notification Through Local Law Enforcement

In addition to the statewide database, every local law enforcement authority in Texas manages a sex offender registry that contains information on all the sex offenders who have registered with the authority. As with the statewide database, Texas law mandates that most of this registration information be made available to the public. Some local law enforcement authorities have created local websites that are available for search by the public. Local law enforcement authorities may also publish some sex offenders in a newspaper, circular, or another periodical that serves the community.

Postcard Notification for High-Risk Offenders

If a high-risk sex offender moves into a community, TXDPS will mail a postcard containing information about the offender to each residence and business in the community.

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