What Are the Rules About Where Texas Sex Offenders Can Live?

By Beverly Bird - Updated February 05, 2018
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Under Texas law, there’s a big difference between a registered sex offender and one who is still under court supervision and out on parole or probation. Supervised offenders also have to register and are sometimes limited as to where they can live, but this is decided on a case-by-case basis. A registered offender who isn’t on probation or parole in Texas can live anywhere he chooses, but the state takes steps to protect residents and keep track of the offender.

Tip

A registered sex offender in Texas can live anywhere after a probation or parole period is over. Supervised offenders may face location restrictions on a case-by-case basis.

Sex Offender Registration Program

The Texas Sex Offender Registration Program keeps track of convicted offenders. They must register their current addresses, along with other information, which must be updated every year, usually around the time of their birthdays. If they’ve been convicted of a violent sexual offense, they must do this for the rest of their lives. If offenders move without notifying the registry of the change of address, it’s a felony. These rules apply to all offenders who were convicted after 1970 and still subject to court supervision as of September 1, 1997 or later.

Notification to the Public

Although sex offenders who have completed probation or parole aren’t subject to residence restrictions, the public has a right to know where they are. The Texas Department of Public Safety offers a website where you can check the current registration database. There’s no charge to access the site. If the state has determined that a particular offender is high risk, DPS will mail a postcard to residents and businesses in the neighborhood of his residence letting them know his registered address. If the offender’s victim was younger than 17, and if any schools are in the area of his residence, DPS notifies the schools as well. Landlords and neighborhood associations are free to make their own rules when they become aware that someone is a sex offender. They don’t have to accept the individual into their community or rent property to him if they don’t want to.

Offenders Under Supervision

Stricter rules apply to offenders who are under court supervision. An offender’s probation officer must approve his place of residence, and he can’t move from that location without checking in and getting the officer’s consent. The court might additionally place restrictions on where he can live as a condition of his probation or parole.

Child Safety Zones

Texas has child safety zones that don’t relate to where a sex offender can live, but do prohibit offenders from involvement with civic, athletic or cultural programs for children ages 17 or younger, and they can’t join any programs if the program’s base is near a school or playground. This rule applies only to those under court supervision, but if the offender violates it, his parole or probation can be revoked. The exact rules for each offender depend on the specific conditions of his parole or probation.

About the Author

Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.

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