Thursday, June 21, 2012

Can Failure to register as a sex offender get expunged?


This question and answers come from an online "Ask a Lawyer" site.

Question by its Texas viewer:
As a minor I was charged with a aggravated sexual assault "this is not on my record" what is on my record is a failure to register as a sex offender. I was in the middle of moving houses and I didn't comply with my registration, is there anything I can do about the failure to register as a sex offender that is on my record? I would no longer have to register as a sex offender in 2013 because i was a minor when this happened.

Answer Lawyer-1:
If your Failure to Register charge resulted in a criminal conviction, you cannot expunge the arrest. Unfortunately, the conviction and the arrest will remain on your record. If the charge was dismissed or you were acquitted, you should speak with an attorney about getting an expunction of your arrest record on that charge. Good luck to you.

Answer Lawyer-2:
Unfortunately, you're not going to be able to get those records expunged if you were convicted or received any kind of felony probation, including deferred adjudication. I was prepared to answer that you wouldn't even qualify to have the records nondisclosed ("sealed"), because being required to register will normally make you in eligible. I went to look at the statute that says that so I could quote you the exact language, and now I'm not so sure about that. Here's the statute section that potentially disqualifies you:

Section 411.081 Texas Government Code

(e)...A person is not entitled to petition the court under Subsection (d) if the person was placed on the deferred adjudication community supervision for or has been previously convicted or placed on any other deferred adjudication for:

(1) an offense requiring registration as a sex offender under Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure;

If you were adjudicated for a sexual assault case as a juvenile offender, rather than being handled as an adult, I believe you'd only be considered to be "convicted" if you ended up going to TYC or got certified as an adult. I could be wrong about that, and I'd have to look it up to be sure, but I think there may be a loophole there specifically because of it being a juvenile offense. I would imagine that the DA would probably oppose it, realistically, which would mean you'd have to have a contested hearing so the judge could decide 1) if my theory about your actually not having a sexual assault conviction is a valid way to look at the situation, and 2) whether it would be "in the best interest of justice" (which means the judge can do whatever seems right to them, and there's no way to appeal the decision). But given your lack of other options, I think a nondisclosure might be worth going after. Good luck.
Page cited from which may have more Answers

Reform Sex Offender Laws creates legal fund in response to murders of Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray in Washington State

OPINION: Press Release

Cambridge, MA -- Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) Spurred on by the June 3 murders of two registered sex offenders, RSOL has created a legal fund dedicated to challenging the ever increasing restrictions imposed by legislatures throughout the United States. RSOL’s top priority will be attacking the expanding reach of sex offender registries because it is clear that these Internet websites have contributed to a steadily increasing number of murders of persons registered on that list.

RSOL’s Executive Director Brenda Jones pointed out that this is not the first incident where a person’s name being listed on Washington's sex offender registry has led to his murder. In 2005, two men on that registry were shot and killed in Bellingham by a vigilante who gained access to their home by posing as a law enforcement officer. Authorities investigating that shooting called it “one of the nation's most serious cases of vigilantism aimed at sex offenders.” (Seattle Times, August 30, 2005)

“Washington State expressed concern in 2005,” says Jones. “But what has the state done in the intervening years to prevent this from happening again? And what will they do now that two more registrants have been murdered at the hands of a vigilante using the sex offender registry as a tool?”

Clallam County prosecutor Deborah Kelly said in a recent court hearing that Patrick Drum, the self-proclaimed vigilante in the June 3 incident, had told investigators that he “planned to keep killing sex offenders until he was stopped.”

Gary Blanton's recent murder in Washington State left his young wife Leslie alone to raise their sons Gary, Jr. and Skylar, both under the age of three. The murder of Jerry Ray left his aging father alone with no assistance. News accounts have come in from as far as Maine showing that murders and other acts of vigilantism against registrants have occurred and are increasing. ***

“People on the registry are citizens, too,” Jones says. “The majority have completed serving their sentences. Their children, like Skylar and Gary Jr., are entitled to the same protection as any other citizen. They certainly do not deserve to have their parents marked as helpless targets for vigilantes.”

According to Jones, there is scant evidence that sex offender registries enhance public safety. “In fact, there is considerable evidence to the contrary. Public registration provides little more than a taxpayer-financed tool for vigilantes wishing to commit horrendous acts of vigilantism against registrants and places their innocent children in danger.”

RSOL believes that the full home address of registrants should be available only to law enforcement, not the general public. RSOL calls on Governor Gregoire to immediately issue an emergency order removing street addresses from the sex offender website. In addition, the Sex Offender Policy Board must commit itself to assuring the safety and well being not only of the men and women on its sex offender registry, but also the innocent family members of those registrants.

Reform Sex Offender Laws ( is a national organization with affiliates in 39 states. RSOL advocates for the civil, constitutional, and human rights of roughly 750,000 registrants on the public sexual offender registry, not to mention millions of their family members-- including their children.

Any legal case RSOL undertakes must deal with registration itself and potentially impact a significant number of similarly situated persons. With its limited resources, RSOL cannot undertake any case where an individual simply wishes to challenge his/her conviction.

Contact: Brenda Jones, Executive Director
Reform Sex Offender Laws
(443) 579-7765