The Real Rules For Sex Offenders on Halloween
Lynchburg, VA - It's the time of year when every parent is on high alert, making sure their little ones in costume are kept safe.
But we wanted to clear up some of the Halloween safety misconceptions, in particular, when it comes to sex offenders.
For instance, not all registered sex offenders have to turn their lights off and leave the decorations indoors. Also, not all sex offenders have to spend the night at their probation office.
Bottom line parents, you need to be vigilant on October 31st, as well as all year round.
Many families hit the neighborhood going door to door, "We go to the same spot every year, and my sister and I, we all go together" said one woman.
"We only go to the houses that we know in our neighborhood. If we were to go out, we would look up a registry" said another.
The registered sex offender registry that is; and she wasn't the only one we found to do that.
"We've gone on the sex offenders list to make sure that we don't go into those neighborhoods" said one woman.
A map from FamilyWatchdog.com, shows all registered sex offenders in the Lynchburg area. According to them, more than 200 live in the Hill City alone.
"If you are on the list, you do not have to take any special actions or do anything different than anyone else in the neighborhood on Halloween" said Andrew Childress, a defense attorney in Lynchburg.
Childress says there are many misconceptions about sex offenders on Halloween.
"They're not permitted to be home during Halloween; If you're on the sex offender list that, like you said, you can't decorate your house" he said are some common ones.
Both are false. Childress told us only actively supervised offenders are required to leave their lights off and not decorate their home. Those are the men and women who are fresh out of jail, on probation that a judge ordered to be monitored closely.
Also, sex offenders are not required to report anywhere on Halloween, but many probation offices have voluntary programs.
"Just because your neighbor's on the list, doesn't mean your neighborhood's dangerous. Nothing substitutes being a good parent and watching your kids 365 days a year" said Childress.
Overall safety on Halloween is important. Some good rules to follow are to go out in a big group, avoid dark spots, and always know where your children are.
The Virginia State Police lists a full Sex Offender Registry on their website, which you can view here.