A conviction for a sex crime carries heavy penalties in Texas, but did you know that Halloween comes with its own set of additional requirements if you are on the sex offender registry?
If you are a registered sex offender, you need to understand what is required of you on this holiday. If have been charged with a sex crime, you need to know what consequences could be in your future and why it’s so important to mount the strongest possible defense.
Here’s the gist of the situation. Several states, including Texas, have passed laws designed to keep registered sex offenders away from kids on Halloween. Violating these requirements could result in a felony charge and prison time.
What Exactly Is Required of Registered Sex Offenders on Halloween?
Today, anyone can easily find out where registered sex offenders live due to online registries. Parents have access to an app that lists the addresses of registered sex offenders, and they can check this before they head out for trick-or-treating. The Texas Public Sex Offender Registry is a free download for anyone with a mobile device, and it contains interactive maps and a reporting feature.
This database was supposedly designed to make people feel safer and more in control, but in reality what it seems to have done is heighten the fear factor on Halloween – despite the fact that data doesn’t support a higher crime rate.
Enter the additional Halloween-based sex offender requirements.
Here in Texas, the main one is that several counties require sex offenders to report to the courthouse for a mandatory meeting during trick-or-treating hours. For example, in Bexar County around 650 of the total 3,519 registered sex offenders are on probation. These offenders are required to attend an evening workshop on Halloween. At the workshop, they meet with counselors and therapists to discuss their cases and receive treatment.
One official stated that the registered sex offenders on probation attend weekly and monthly meetings already, so the workshop is simply another meeting that fits in their regular pattern. Yet it’s clear that registered sex offenders are under extra surveillance around Halloween. Officials spend the days before Halloween making home visits to enforce compliance. They inspect homes for exterior Halloween decorations to ensure that sex offenders aren’t enticing children to visit. They also visit homes of any registered sex offenders who are not required to attend the workshop.
Why Have These Extra Halloween Requirements for Sex Offenders?
The so-called “No Candy” laws are intended to protect children from being exposed to sex offenders while trick-or-treating on Halloween. The laws gained popularity in the 1990s when more arrests were made for sex crimes.
Some critics of the laws say that registered sex offenders are being unfairly punished, as even holiday activities with their own children or relatives may be restricted on Halloween. They argue that the sex offenders have already been punished for their crimes and don’t deserve another round of penalties.
They may have a point. No facts have proven that children are at a higher risk of sexual abuse on Halloween.
Here’s what we do know:
- Less than 10% of children who are sexually abused are victims to strangers, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice. That means “stranger danger” for sex crimes isn’t a huge factor on Halloween.
- A California study discovered that less than one percent of registered sex offenders who went back to prison did so because they committed another sex crime. The vast majority re-entered prison due to a violation of parole terms. The report indicates that the likelihood of repeat sex offenses on Halloween is highly unlikely.
- In an eight-year study of over 67,000 sex crimes, no additional crimes were committed on Halloween.
However, because so many articles about Halloween safety are published in the weeks leading up to the holiday, fears may be escalated. This causes many people to show support for the “No Candy” laws even though they may be based on unnecessary concerns and unwarranted legal issues for registered sex offenders.
What Can You Do to Avoid Restrictive and Damaging Penalties?
When you don’t fight your sex crime charges, it can be difficult to get a job or housing. But it can also restrict your basic rights even further on specific days of the year, such as Halloween. Your activity with children, including relatives, will be prohibited in many ways. You will also be restricted from entering certain restaurants, toy sections in retail stores, and malls with public play areas.
If you are facing charges for a sex crime in Texas, the additional restrictions on Halloween are yet one more reason to fight your charges. You may face many losses of freedom for the rest of your life if you are convicted.
The best way to fight back is to reach out to an experienced Texas criminal attorney. Schedule an appointment today to discuss the details of your case, and give yourself the best chance at a positive outcome.