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How and why sex offenders can deregister and legally remove their names
from the Texas sex offender registry
By Michael Lowe, Esq.
Texas law not only requires defendants convicted of certain sex crimes to
register with the government as a sex offender; as of 2005, the Texas
Legislature has also provided a procedure for individuals to have their
names removed from the Texas sex offender registry. The process is called
According to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 62.401, beginning in
2005 a means for opting out of the sex offender registry was offered if
certain criteria were met by the applicant. In 2011, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 62.301 was
passed providing for another, specific group of individuals to seek freedom for the sex offender registry
in legislation nicknamed the Romeo and Juliet Bill.
What is the Texas Sex Offenders Registry?
The State of Texas has created and maintains a public list of people who have been convicted of specific
sex crimes in Texas courts, which is similar in nature to those sex offender registries in other states as
well as the sex offender registry maintained nationally. Overseen by the Texas Department of Public
Safety, it is possible to search the Texas Sex Offenders Registry online by name, birthdate, address,
county, zip code, or institute of higher education.
Until last year, the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry also provided the employers name, address, and
telephone number for each sex offender on the registry. This employer information was removed and is
no longer available on the Registry because of an amendment to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 (changing Article 62.005).
Defendants who are convicted in a Texas court of any number of crimes considered to be sex crimes
(child pornography, indecency with a child, sexual assault, etc.) may be required under Texas law to be
included on the Texas Sex Offenders Registry as part of their sentencing. Depending upon the crime for
which they are convicted, an individual can face being included on the Registry for anywhere from 10
years to the rest of their lives.
The Texas Sex Offenders Registry allows parents, teachers, and any member of the general public to
learn about anyone living in their neighborhood or near their schools who has been convicted of a sex
crime in the State of Texas. The information is provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the
Texas Youth Commission, and other criminal justice agencies (regional, county, city, etc.).
The Texas Sex Offenders Registry is considered an open record to the public and as the DPS website
explains, accordingly [i]t may be used by anyone for any purpose.
Injustice to Some Individuals Named on Texas Sex Offenders Registry
The reality is that having your name on the Texas Sex Offenders Registry means that you may have
problems finding a job, or holding on to that job. Some neighbors may harass you if you move into their
Some communities may bar you from living in them. People may avoid you, and it will be hard to make
and keep friends. Some family members may exclude you from their lives. It is a shameful situation, and
being on The Registry guarantees living as a social pariah for many of its registrants.
Still, the price of that punishment has been seen as warranted in view of the risk of future women and
children (and sometimes men) being victimized in future sex crimes. The people listed on the Texas Sex
Offenders Registry are those found to be at a risk of committing another sexual crime in the future if left
unmonitored. The loss of their personal privacy has been legally determined to be less valuable than
protecting the public interest against their potential criminal conduct.
Over time, however, it became clear that a lifelong punishment of having their identities revealed on the
Registry was unjust for some people who were required by law to be included on the Texas Sex
Offenders Registry. No two people are exactly alike, and stark differences revealed themselves between
many of the registrants as the Registry was implemented over time.
For instance, there are some folk who are simply not a risk for re-offending and their treating therapists
or counselors have confidence that there is no risk that these people, if freed from the Registry, would
violate a Texas sex crime law in the future.
Many of these people completed years of court ordered sex offense counseling and reported to
professionals who believe they do not pose any substantial risk to re-offend. Unfortunately, they
continue to suffer substantial negative consequences from sex offense registration, including exclusion
from employment; restrictions on where they live; alongside harassment, threats, the risk of physical
assault, and being social ostracized.
This suffering happens not only to the registrant,
of course. It has been shown that not just the
individual named on the Sex Offender Registry,
but their family, friends, and children also feel the
negative effects of having their loved one listed
on the Database. They, too, can be victims of
harassment and abuse because of their
relationship with someone identified as a Sex
Offender on the Texas Registry.
Until recently, sex offender deregistration was not
possible for anyone.
Deregistration Laws and Their Limitations
In 2005, the Texas Legislature amended the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to allow for some people
to be removed from the Texas Sex Offenders Database. Specifically, Articles 62.401 - 62.408 were
passed and these laws set up a process for applicants to be taken off the Sex Offenders Registry by DPS.
Then again, in 2011, new laws were passed to allow a specific type of registrant to be removed from the
Registry if set criteria were met, as Article 62.301 was passed.
These laws do not create a specific type of expunction, however. Only one thing happens with a
deregistration: the individuals name is removed from the open record public registry database as an
identified Texas Sex Offender.
This procedure does not remove the criminal case from the criminal records. It does not seal the
criminal record from public view. In fact, anyone who is convicted of a sex crime in Texas is not eligible
for expunction of their criminal records. (For more on expunction, please read my article on that process
entitled, Second Chances: How to Get Rid of Your Texas Criminal Record.)
What Deregistration does is take your name off the Texas Sex Offender Registry database that is
maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety and it removes the legal requirement that you
register in the future on any public sex offender listing. That is quite a lot for someone who has had to
deal with the repercussions of having their name on the Registry, but that is all that deregistration does.
Deregistration does not:
Act as any judicial finding on your underlying case (this is not an appeal of your conviction)
Impact any probation or parole
Nix any legal requirement that you reveal your sex crime conviction to a potential employer
Allow you to get a job involving being around kids
Release your DNA records from any law enforcement database
Who Is Eligible for Deregistration or the Early Termination of Sex Offender
Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, those registered sex offenders listed on the Texas Sex
Offenders Registry may be able to obtain a Judges court order granting the early termination of the
legal requirement of their characterization as a sex offender for purposes of registration.
Technically, this is done by filing a motion with the judge requesting early termination of the person's
obligation to register under Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The judge has the
authority and legal discretion to grant that request if they can prove with authenticated, admissible
evidence that:
1. Under federal law, the amount of time required for registration on a Sex Offender Registry is
less time than under Texas law
2. No more than one sex crime conviction (or deferred adjudication) on their record
3. Completion of Sex Offender Treatment Program as defined in Texas Administrative Code
chapter 810
4. Professional Confirmation of Little or no Risk of Future Sex Crime Conduct (Re-Offenses)
5. The sex crime conviction resulting in the registration is based upon Texas law (out of state
convictions are not covered here)
Furthermore, only certain sex crimes are covered here. Violent crimes, for example, are not subject to
deregistration. For deregistration, the conviction must be based upon one of the following Texas sex
Compelling prostitution where victim is under 17 years of age
Sexual performance of a child
Online solicitation of a minor
Indecent exposure
Unlawful restraint of a victim under 17 years of age
Child pornography (possession or promotion)
Indecency with a child (13-17 years old)
In 2011, a special statute was passed to allow deregistration for teenagers and young adults who were
arrested for the sex crime of statutory rape even though the parties involved swore they had been
engaging in consensual sex.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 62.301 allows for these young people either to avoid being
placed upon the Sex Offender Registry or to go before the judge in a request for deregistration in a
somewhat simpler process than other forms of deregistration as well as recognizing the realities of
teenager sexual culture in America today. Now, if one of the individuals is at least 15 years old and the
other is no more than four years older, then the situation will not be defined as statutory rape and a
Texas sex crime requiring registration on the Texas Sex Offender Registry. For others in a Romeo and
Juliet situation, the statute provides a simplified method for getting the young persons name removed
from the Sex Offender database.
Process for Deregistration from Texas Sex Offender Registry
Deregistration can be complicated and difficult to understand for those not adept at maneuvering
through the Texas criminal justice system. For one thing, under Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal
Procedure, first you must obtain the approval of the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment before
you even think about filing a motion with a trial court judge. Here, proof must also be submitted and the
Council will review your application with them.
1. The Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment
The Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment is part of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
From its website:
Since 1983, CSOT has been recognized by the State of Texas as the experts in the treatment and
management of sex offenders. CSOT sets forth the standards of practice for the sex offender treatment
providers in the State.
The professional treatment perspective on your application for deregistration will come via the CSOT.
Things that must be submitted to the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment include your
documentation of your current criminal history background checks (both federal and state), as well as
the court order detailing your conviction (or deferred adjudication) and confirmation of the age of the
victim at the time of the offense if a minor was involved (Indictment; Offense Report; or Probable Cause
An assessment of your application with CSOT will include an evaluation of your case by an independent,
licensed sex offender treatment provider who is under contract to the Council to provide deregistration
evaluation services. This professional will undertake their own evaluation of your situation (i.e., their risk
analysis of your likelihood of committing a sex crime in the future) and provide a written report of their
findings to the CSOT.
If the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment supports your deregistration request, then the next step
is to file a motion with the court seeking the judges ruling on your deregistration.
2. Motion before the Trial Judge
Once the CSOT has approved your application, then you can file a formal motion with the criminal court
judge where your criminal trial was prosecuted. Here, the specifics of Art. 62.404 must be followed:
(a) A person required to register under this chapter who has requested and received an
individual risk assessment under Article 62.403 may file with the trial court that sentenced the
person for the reportable conviction or adjudication a motion for early termination of the
person's obligation to register under this chapter.
(b) A motion filed under this article must be accompanied by:
(1) a written explanation of how the reportable conviction or adjudication giving rise to the
movant's registration under this chapter qualifies as a reportable conviction or adjudication that
appears on the list published under Article 62.402(b); and
(2) a certified copy of a written report detailing the outcome of an individual risk assessment
evaluation conducted under Article 62.403(b)(1).
The presiding judge of that court (which may or may not be the same person who sat on the bench at
your trial) will decide whether or not to hear your request. This will be an evidentiary hearing and the
judge will be given great discretion under state law to decide whether or not your request should be
granted. (In other words, its hard to overturn the judges decision here on appeal.)
Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the judge is given direction on how to respond to your
deregistration request. Pursuant to Tex.Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 62.405, the judge may:
(1) deny without a hearing the movant's request for early termination; or
(2) hold a hearing on the motion to determine whether to grant or deny the motion.
(b) The court may not grant a motion filed under Article 62.404 if:
(1) the motion is not accompanied by the documents required under Article 62.404(b); or
(2) the court determines that the reportable conviction or adjudication for which the movant is
required to register under this chapter is not a reportable conviction or adjudication for which
the movant is required to register for a period that exceeds the minimum required registration
period under federal law.
Thanks to changes made to the Texas Sex Offender Registry laws in the past decade, it is possible for
people who have been convicted of sex crimes in Texas to have their names removed from the Texas
Sex Offender Registry database. It is not a simple process, but it is something that many individuals who
are legally required to be on the open record Sex Offender database find to be worth the effort. It helps
them and their loved ones.
Arguments can also be made that removing violators that have little if any likelihood of committing this
sort of crime in the future also serves the public at large, providing a more accurate and valuable listing
of high-risk persons on the database by removing those who are not prone to endangering the public in
the future.
There is one last caveat, however. Those who undertake the effort to deregister from the Texas Sex
Offenders Registry need to know that success here means that they will have a judges order freeing
them from the official DPS database and its formal Registry. It will not remove their names from any
online sex offender listings, blog posts, Facebook pages, and the like that may have been established
based upon that public record. Seeking to have their names removed from these lists will entail
additional steps, taken under civil procedure not criminal law.
About the Author:
Michael Lowe is a Texas trial attorney practicing criminal defense law in the Dallas area for
many years after first serving as a felony prosecutor for the Office of the District Attorney for
Dallas County. He is Board Certified by the State Bar of Texas in Criminal Law. Mr. Lowe has
tried to verdict over 150 criminal trials so far in the state and federal systems.