Does Sex Offender Registration Mean I Can’t See My Own Children?

February 20th, 2018 by Tad Nelson in Sex Crime

It is well known that if you are convicted of a sex offense or sex crime in Texas, you can be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. But there are cases where a person may be treated as a registered sex offender following conviction for non-sexual offenses. And such status can not only affect where you may live and work–it can also affect your relationship with your own children.

Court Agrees to Review Modified Sentence for Constitutional Violations

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently agreed to consider a case where a woman who pleaded guilty to a non-sexual offense was subsequently forbidden from having any contact with her biological children as a condition. This case began in 2014 when Texas prosecutors charged the defendant with two counts of indecency with a child, which refers to engaging in sexual contact with a person under the age of 17.

In exchange for pleading guilty to the non-sexual offense of “injury to a child,” the defendant was sentenced to 10 years probation. She also agreed to “undergo sex offender evaluation and treatment and be bound by sex offender community supervision conditions.” At the time, the judge said the defendant could “not have contact with anyone seventeen years old or younger except for her biological children.”

But in 2016, the judge modified the terms of the defendant’s probation to prohibit all contact with children, including her own. This decision came one day after a therapist treating the defendant told her and her husband that she “should not have access to any minor child” based on her refusal to accept responsibility for her earlier actions. The judge modified his order without holding a hearing or affording the defendant a chance to respond.

The Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld the trial judge’s modification in an August 2017 opinion. Although the defendant was not convicted of a sex crime, the appeals court said “evidence relating to the sexual nature of the offenses” justified treating her as a sex offender. And given “that the State has a compelling interest in protecting children, including [defendant’s] children, from sexual exploitation,” the modified probation terms did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights as a parent.

It is this last point that the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to review. In her petition to the Court, the defendant noted there was no evidence she ever engaged in any illegal or inappropriate contact with her own children. Indeed, her children were not the victims of the original offense. So the state therefore has no “compelling interest” in prohibiting all contact between the defendant and her children. The Court of Criminal Appeals will make a final determination on this issue later this year.

Speak With a Galveston Sex Crimes Lawyer Today

Whatever the Court decides, cases like this should serve as a wake-up call to any parent charged with a crime involving a child. A conviction, even if it does not directly implicate a sex offense, may be used to justify classifying you as a sex offender for the rest of your life. This can not only restrict your basic freedoms, but it may endanger the well-being of your entire family. This is why it is imperative to work with a qualified Houston sex crimes defense lawyer if you are accused of any offense involving a child. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today if you need to speak with an attorney right away, call (281) 280-0100 now. 

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