Town Ordinances Can Be Problematic for Texas’ Registered Offenders
It has become increasingly common for towns across Texas to establish ordinances that greatly restrict the movement of registered sex offenders. The ordinances often force offenders out of towns entirely due to lack of housing far enough away from public areas where children are present. These ordinances go beyond Texas sex offender laws and can greatly impede on the rights of sex offenders to find adequate housing.
Rash of Ordinances Appear in Texas Towns
The state of Texas allows municipalities to enact town ordinances that restrict the movement of sex offenders beyond the provisions of state law. For example, one Texas town has prohibited sex offenders from setting foot on public areas where children congregate, including churches, parks, public pools, schools and other facilities that are child-oriented. The town even prohibits registered offenders from participating in Halloween.
Often, these ordinances carry stiff penalties when violated. In the aforementioned town, offenders who violate the ordinance are charged with a misdemeanor and face fines up to $2,000. These penalties apply to each individual offense.
Two Dallas-Area Towns Restrict Sex Offender Activities
Two cities in the Dallas area have also enacted sex offender ordinances. The city of Carrollton prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of places where children gather, including schools, churches, parks and day cares. In some cases, compliance with the ordinance is incorporated into an offender’s probation. Violating the ordinance is a misdemeanor offense.
The city of Lewisville also has a sex offender ordinance. It bars registered sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of any place where children gather. Offenders trying to comply with the ordinance find they are left with very few — if any — options for residing within Lewisville’s city limits.
In fact, one man sued the city of Lewisville over its tough sex offender residence restrictions. This March, the man filed suit against the city because the ordinance denied him the ability to find adequate housing. His family, including his wife and two teenage daughters, was forced to live in a motel room due to the restrictions.
Taking legal action against towns with these restrictive ordinances, like the man in Lewisville did, may help show municipal lawmakers how these laws impede on the rights of registered sex offenders who have served their time. These laws unnecessarily target individuals whose past crimes may not have involved children or those who do not threaten the public.
However, these additional city restrictions of registered sex offenders do illustrate the severity of consequences for a sex crime conviction. If you have been charged with a sex crime, it is important to contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney so that your rights are protected.