New Texas law adds exemption to sex-offense registry requirements

When someone mentions the words "sex crimes," images of violent rape and assault come to mind. Less often does statutory rape come to mind, the crime that occurs between an adult and a child.

But both types of sex offenses have required those convicted to register as sex offenders.

Of course, the idea of sex between an "adult" and a "child" becomes very different if the "adult" is only 17 or 18 years old and the "child" is 16.

The age of consent in Texas is 17, meaning that the boyfriend, who is 17, can be charged with statutory rape for engaging in sexual behavior with his girlfriend, who is 16. (Those under the age of 17 are deemed not to have the capacity to consent to sex.)

Sex offense registration is a draconian punishment for the 17-year-old who is convicted of statutory rape - impacting his entire life, from where he can live, go to school, what jobs he can get.

The Texas legislature has passed a new law, a "very narrow window," under which a convicted person can ask the courts to exempt them from the registry. As James Cannon reports for My West Texas, there are three conditions:

  1. The victim must have been at least 14 years old
  2. The sexual act must not have been forcible in nature
  3. The age range between the sexual partners must not be more than four years

"We should be tracking pedophiles, for instance," says one prosecutor, as Cannon reports. "[N]ot two high school kids having sex."

Source: My West Texas, "Some sexual offenders might not have to register," by James Cannon, 08/30/11

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