Could Child Predators Be Handing Out Halloween Candy on Your Street?

Could Child Predators Be Handing Out Halloween Candy on Your Street?

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If you plan to trick-or-treat this year, remember that there’s more to it than finding the perfect costume. The route you take should be safe, well-lit, and popular enough that there aren’t long stretches without any porch lights on to welcome trick-or-treaters.

You should also check the map of registered sex offenders, just in case.

Boo Laws Could Protect Kids

Depending on the state where you live, it may be perfectly legal for registered offenders to participate in Halloween. While most of these people are on the registry for offenses that do not involve children, it’s still a risk to knock on a stranger’s door.

In California, Operation Boo requires that sex offenders on parole have to observe the following rules from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Halloween:

  • Remain in their own home
  • Do not answer the door anyone except law enforcement
  • Keep all exterior lights off
  • Do not offer candy
  • Do not have their house decorated for Halloween

Until 2016, these people also had to put a sign in their yard that states a registered sex offender lives there. However, the group California Reform Sex Offender Laws successfully argued that such a sign violated the First Amendment and could put the offenders and their households in danger.

How to Check Your Neighborhood

California is the exception, not the rule when it comes to requiring predators to sit out Halloween. You can check to see how many offenders live in your area by visiting the Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website.

Enter your address and then see a map and a list of offenders within a one-mile radius. The list includes a booking photo, age, known aliases, and known addresses of convicted criminals who are registered in the database. What it does not tell you is what kind of crime they committed. You have no way of knowing if the person was arrested for public urination–which requires registration in 13 states–or something much more sinister.

To find out more information, you’ll need to look at your state’s database instead. The SORNA Act of 2006 requires that the listings include, at minimum, which tier of offense they are ranked in.

A Tier II offender may have been involved in trafficking minors and other criminal activity involving a person under 18. A Tier III offender could have committed similar crimes but with an added element of violence or kidnapping.

As for Tier I offenses, they include any crime not involving minors and/or violence. These criminals will no longer need to register when they change addresses after 10 years without any further offenses.