LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Sex offenders are supposed to register with their local law enforcement agencies, but when they fail to register, their cases can end up in the hands of the district attorney’s office.
Michael Mendoza was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Monday. Mendoza was sentenced after failing to register as a sex offender in 2017. His case is an example of the extreme consequences of being neglectful.
“If someone is clearly not compliant, what I expect would happen is a case file would be written up and a charge would be sent to us from a law enforcement agency and then we could present to a grand jury and they can seek an indictment,” said Chief Prosecuting Attorney Barron Slack with the Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office.
The Lubbock Police Department reports there are 451 registered sex offenders currently registered in the City of Lubbock. The department conducts several dozen random compliance checks every month.
According to the Lubbock County Sheriff’s office, there are 200 registered living in the unincorporated county. They report two moved away without notice, making them non-compliant.
And when that happens, the district attorney and local law enforcement team up to locate the non-compliant.
“It’s a two-part decision. But they are required to register meaning, people know where you are and what city you’re in, your residence and address, maybe you’re place of employment all of those kinds of specifics they’re required to report directly to the agency,” said Slack. “If they’re not doing that… of course if they discovered that they moved to the agency of where they went or where they left… things of that nature...then they could be in violation of the law and the prosecution could occur after that.”
The District Attorney’s office wants the public to be as safe as possible. “The primary focus is so that the average citizen, the average parent in town can know and have information about where these people may be and when they’re not complying with the law, then it’s an unknown."
Slack says that failure to register is normally a 3rd degree felony, which could be two to 10 years years in prison, but if that person has previously been convicted, it could affect their sentence.
“If someone has been previously convicted of failing to register, then the punishment could range from two to 20 years or be inhansible in that way I think it’s 2 to 20.”
To see where the “Sex Offender-Free Zones” are for the City of Lubbock, click here.
To see who is on the Sex Offender’s registry, click here.