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Understanding Megan's Law in Texas

Congress passed Megan's Law in 1996 as an amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children Act. Megan's Law requires every state to establish a procedure for notifying the public when people convicted of sexual offenses come into the community.

What Is a Sex Offender Registry?

In Texas, every person convicted of a sexual offense on or after September 1, 1970 is required to register with local law enforcement within seven days of relocating to a new area. Juvenile offenders as well as adults must supply the following information:

  • Full name, as well as any aliases and online identifiers
  • Drivers license number
  • Social security number
  • Home address
  • Employment or educational status

In addition, each person registered must provide his or her photograph, fingerprints, shoe size and physical description. Sentencing details and a description of the offense are also included on the registry, along with law enforcement's assessment of how likely each person is to reoffend.

How Is the Information Used?

Much of the data contained in the sex offender registry is available to the public, including the names, photographs and addresses of the individuals listed. Only certain details, such as their phone numbers, social security numbers and online identifiers, are kept confidential.

Members of the public can access the sex offender registry online and perform searches by name or area. In certain cases, the Texas Department of Public Safety sends postcards to notify the public when offenders move into the community.

In most cases, people convicted to sex crimes are required to remain on the registry for life, although with certain types of offenses they may only be required to register for 10 years after being released from incarceration.

Legal Help Is Available for Those Facing Charges

Because the consequences of sex crime allegations can be severe and are often permanent, it is important to seek help from a qualified criminal defense lawyer if you or someone close to you has been charged with a sexual offense. An attorney with experience in sex crimes cases can be a powerful advocate for your rights and will work hard to see that you are treated fairly in court.