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How does the law protect kids from sex offenders on Halloween?

How does the law protect kids from sex offenders on Halloween?
Posted at 8:21 AM, Oct 26, 2016

Halloween is around the corner and as kids' excitement builds for costumes and candy, parents prepare to take or send their kids out for trick-or-treating.

Safety is a top priority for parents and one major concern is whose door kids knock on Halloween night. 

Each state has a website where residents can search for any registered sexual offender living in a specific zip code. Good Housekeeping published a comprehensive list of all 50 states' registries to help parents prepare for where to trick-or-treat on Halloween.

Sex offender registries are typically handled at the local level, but it is a federal offense for convicted sex offenders to fail to register or update their information. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) provides a "comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification and registration in the United States). 

"No Candy Laws" in states including Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas limit registered sex offenders from participating in trick-or-treating, according to FindLaw.com. Affected offenders must post a sign stating "No candy at this residence." 

Other states have variations on this law:

  • Florida's law differs slightly from the "No Candy Laws" by restricting paroled sex offenders from passing out candy and wearing costumes on Halloween night.
  • In California, officials can perform nighttime checks on Halloween to make sure sex offenders are home and the lights are out.
  • New York officials have the "Halloween: Zero Tolerance" law, which allows them make "unannounced home visits, curfew checks and phone calls to enforce the law."

Not all states have specific laws regulating sex offenders on Halloween, so the best tip to plan the family Halloween route around familiar homes in and around the neighborhood.