Can I Be Charged with a Felony If I Fail to Update My Sex Offender Registration?
October 26th, 2018 by Tad Nelson in Sex Crime
Many convictions for sex offenses and sex crimes in Texas carry with it a requirement to register as a sex offender. In many cases, this means the offender must annually update law enforcement about their address, employment, and even vehicle registration, for the rest of their life. And failure to register as required carries significant legal penalties independent of the original sex crimes conviction.
Indeed, it may surprise you to learn that failure to comply with registration requirements is a felony under Texas law. For offenders who must register annually, a failure to comply is actually a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Houston Court Upholds 5-Year Prison Term for Offender Who Failed to Comply With Registration, Parole Requirements
Here is a recent example of just how severe the penalties can get for registered sex offenders. In this case, Wallace v. State, the defendant was convicted of sexual assault 18 years ago. He was required to register annually as a sex offender as part of his sentence. In 2017, Wallace failed to fully comply with the registration requirements–specifically, he did not inform local law enforcement of his plans to move to a new address at least seven days in advance. The defendant then pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony for failure to register.
The judge actually placed the defendant on 10 years community supervision (probation) for this offense. But five months later, prosecutors moved to revoke probation, alleging the defendant violated two conditions of his release. Once again, the defendant pleaded guilty to these allegations. This time, the judge sentenced the defendant to five years in jail on the original failure to register conviction.
The Texas First District Court of Appeals here in Houston rejected the defendant’s appeal of the trial court’s judgment. First, the defendant argued the judge “erroneously sentenced him for a third-degree felony because the charged offense was punishable as a state-jail felony.” In fact, the First District said the defendant “misunderstands the basis of his conviction.” The defendant’s specific offense–failing to verify his registration once a year for life–is a third-degree felony.
Second, the defendant said the original indictment charging him with the felony “failed to allege when his duty to register expires and thus failed to allege facts sufficient to determine the level of offense charged. The First District rejected this argument as well. It noted the indictment did not need to specifically allege the defendant “was subject to lifetime registration.”
Contact a Houston & Galveston Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Today
Texas prosecutors and law enforcement take sex offender registration requirements very seriously. That is why you should try to avoid being placed on the registry in the first place. If you are charged with a sex crime or sex-based offense and need assistance from a qualified Houston criminal defense lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates. We represent clients throughout the Houston, Galveston, and League City areas. Call (281) 280-0100 today to schedule a free consultation so we can sit down and learn more about your case..