Sex Offender Registry Rules To Change

Randall County District Attorney James Farren
Randall County District Attorney James Farren

Young adults convicted of sex crimes could soon have the option of keeping their names off the public sex offender registry.  But, there are some strict guidelines.

The Texas House just passed a bill allowing young adults to ask a judge to spare them from having to register as a sex offender.

One family plans on doing so as soon as possible.

Shocking is how one man, whose identity we are concealing because the case is in appeal stages, describes the news that his 18 year old son was charged with sexual assault on a child after meeting a 14 year old girl at a party...because that is not how he says it all happened.

He says "there were several witnesses that said the girl wanted to get with him but when he learned of her age he didn't want anything to do with her. By then it was too late. And now he's in jail."

Once he gets out, he will have to register in the public sex offender database.

But in consensual encounters involving young people, registration gets tricky.

Randall County District Attorney James Farren says, "a 17 year old who has sex with a 13, 14, 15 year old may be a predator, but he may also not be. A 35 year old who has sex with a 5 year old is always a predator."

That is why, under the new bill, a teenage defendant can ask a judge to keep his or her name off the registry, if it was consensual sex with someone at least 13 years old and no more than four years younger.

Farren says this is perfect because "it lets the court evaluate the situation and determine if they are a predator and still require them to register. If they're not a predator, not a threat to children or likely to be, then the court can exempt them from registration because that really wasn't the intent of the program to begin with."

The father says for his son, "that's vital because this will affect him the rest of his life."

The bill now sits in the Texas Senate.