Can a Minor Be a Sex Offender?
We normally think of sex crimes as committed by adults against young people, but according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), more than one-third (35.6 percent) of sex offenses against minors are committed by juveniles. The number of youth offenders coming to the attention of police increases sharply at age 12 and plateaus at age 14. Teenage offenders are predominantly male, whereas preteen offenders include a significant number of females.
When individuals between 10 and 16 are charged with a crime in Texas, they will be summoned to appear in juvenile court, where instead of a guilty verdict, they may receive what is called an adjudication as delinquent. The consequences can include counseling, community service, and in some cases, even detention. However, if sexual misconduct is involved, then the delinquent juvenile can potentially be required to register as a sex offender.
If your son, daughter, or loved one is facing a sex offense hearing in juvenile court in the Dallas Metro Area—or has been ordered to register as a sex offender after appearing in court—contact The Linder Firm immediately.
Attorney Phillip Linder has more than three decades of experience in the justice system both as a prosecutor and a defender. He will help you and your loved one exercise your rights and will fight for a fair resolution.
Age as a Factor in Sex Offender Registration
According to the Juvenile Law Center, some 200,000 persons are currently on sex offender registries in 41 states for crimes they committed as minors. Thus, they are subject to a stigma that can haunt them their entire lifetimes for indiscretions or mistakes committed while still in school as minors.
Many would argue that placing youths on sex registries serves no public good and only castigates those who are forced to register, along with their families. Registration also forecloses many opportunities in life for those listed, including in the vital realms of education and employment.
What Are Juvenile Sex Crimes?
According to the DOJ, juvenile sex offenders come from a variety of social and family backgrounds, from well-functioning environments to more challenging circumstances.
Events that lead to sex offense investigations range from actions as diverse as sharing pornography with younger children, fondling a child over their clothes, grabbing peers in a sexual way at school, date rape, gang rape, or performing oral, vaginal, or anal sex on a much younger child. Offenses can involve a single event, a few isolated events, or a number of events with multiple victims.
What Is the Law on Juvenile Sex Registration in Texas?
Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Civil Procedure covers the registration requirements for sex offenders. Articles 62.351-356 apply to juvenile sex offenders, and they spell out the process for challenging sex registration for minors. Under the code, if the juvenile court orders a minor to register as a sex offender, a motion for a hearing on the requirement can be requested.
At the hearing, your attorney can argue that the protection of the public would not be increased by forcing the registration, and/or that any increase in public protection would be outweighed by the harm it would cause to the juvenile and his or her family.
To prevail in this argument, your attorney must present evidence, call in witnesses, make legal arguments, and provide a report from counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists about the delinquent juvenile’s condition and rehabilitation. Of course, the prosecutor may present evidence or testimony to the contrary.
After the hearing, the court may put the registration requirement on hold while the juvenile completes any treatment program or detention that was included in the original sentence. If the juvenile completes all the sentencing requirements, the court may release that person from being required to register.
Another option is to require registration but withhold it from public viewing. This means that law enforcement officials will have access to the registration, but the general public will not. However, public and private educational institutions will have access to the registry, which can hurt or even doom the juvenile’s chances of attending the college of their choice.
Note, however, that if the juvenile entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors that included sex offender registration, then you generally cannot request a hearing. The plea bargain takes precedence.
Can You Get a Sex Offender Registration Expunged?
If a juvenile is already on a sex offender registry from prior adjudication in Texas or another state, you can still request a hearing to have the person’s name removed. Again, the court can either order complete removal or mandate that it be excluded from public view.
Uphold Your Rights with Strong Legal Representation
Minors make mistakes—sometimes awful ones—but the result shouldn’t include a label that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. From the moment the investigation begins, contact The Linder Firm if you’re in the Dallas Metro Area or anywhere in North Texas. With more than 30 years of experience in arguing cases from both sides of the aisle, Attorney Phillip Linder will help you and your loved one exercise your rights and fight for the best possible outcome.