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CA: When Handing Out Candy To Trick-or-Treaters Means Risking Arrest

[ – 10/1/18]

Lawyer [Janice M. Bellucci] seeks end to Halloween restrictions that target people convicted of sex offenses.

Before the police apprehended Steve, he tried to kill himself by cutting his wrists, he told The Appeal. Then 20 years old, he had attempted to sexually assault a 12-year-old girl in California.

“I couldn’t believe I had done that,” said Steve, whose name has been changed to protect his identity. “I felt I couldn’t live with myself.”

He spent three years in prison, and after he was released, stayed in California. He married, had two children, and found a career. “I made a decision that I’m going to try to be the best person I can be the rest of my life,” said Steve, who is now in his 50s.

But as a sex offender registrant, his past was never far behind him. In July 2012, Steve’s wife was reading the local paper and saw that people on the sex offender registry in Simi Valley, California, where they lived, would have to post “No Candy” signs on their homes on Halloween to, theoretically, limit their contact with children.

Registrants can be subjected to a range of restrictions, depending on the state, county, or city. They can, among other things, be banned from entering parks or their child’s school, or from living within a certain distance of a school or daycare center; registrants are often required to have their photos and addresses available in online databases.

Steve spoke out against the Halloween requirement at a City Council meeting where he met attorney Janice M. Bellucci, executive director of the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws. She was drawn to this work after learning that someone she had known for years was on the registry. In Oct. 2012, she successfully challenged the sign requirement on behalf of Steve and several other people.

“The work she did wasn’t really for me. It was for my family,” said Steve, who likened the “No Candy” sign to putting a bullseye on his door. “It affects people who have done nothing.”

Bellucci is now hoping for a similar victory. Today, she plans to file suit against Calimesa, California, challenging its Halloween ordinance as well.

“The [Halloween ordinances] punish people on the registry and they do not increase public safety,” Bellucci told The Appeal. “If this protected children, I would be the first one to say yes and to think they were a positive asset to our society, but they’re not.”

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Even supporters keep overlooking the main point regarding Halloween: In 240 – some odd Halloweens in the US, there has never been one single instance of a sex offense committed against a minor on Halloween. Period. Not one. One child was unfortunately murdered in Wisconsin on Halloween 1972, but there was no sexual component to that crime. To say children are safer on Halloween now because all SOs are locked up or whatever is idiotic, in that there was never that sort of threat to begin with. If you want to increase child safety on Halloween night, make driving illegal… Read more »

Back in 2014, in Santa Ana (Orange County…home of the presence restriction and Operation Boo), no one was sexually assaulted, but 3 girls (including twin sisters) were killed by a DUI driver. They were hit while crossing the street during their trick or treating on Halloween night. I’m sure there are more similar cases around the country. I wonder if Santa Clara still has the Halloween restriction.(Anyone live there?) SC was where I had my Sharper Future sessions and my therapist warned me that SC had laws against registrants going out on Halloween. This was back in 2012. She told… Read more »

@Dustin: do you have a credible reference you could share? I’m interested in fighting this Halloween restriction in my state. A few days ago I wrote the Avvo lawyers asking “Has there ever been a documented case in any state where a registered sex offender committed a sex crime on Halloween? If so, when? Please provide a link or case.” I only got one answer saying “Yes, last Halloween…………….. “. I have sent that lawyer a message to see if he a case number or name I could reference but no response yet.

I was referring to Gerald Turner, and there are tons of news articles on him now because of his release date earlier this year. First, a self-correction; he did in fact rape his victim prior to killing her. I only vaguely recalled reading about a murder in Wisconsin on Halloween 1973 (typo in my post above) on an unrecalled anti-registry advocacy site that didn’t mention the rape component of Turner’s convictions. My fault for not digging deeper. I’d point out that registry advocates (including myself) are sometimes just as guilty of overlooking relevant facts that don’t support our position as… Read more »

@Dusin, you just fed the Halloween trolls.

@Dustin, when I asked “@Dustin: do you have a credible reference you could share?”, I meant with the “In 240 – some odd Halloweens in the US, there has never been one single instance of a sex offense committed against a minor on Halloween.” statement. Sorry for the confusion.

@ R M: Thought I self-corrected the remark. Turner is the only instance I can find of a sex offense committed against a minor on Halloween. I’ve run every query I can think of through every available database and have found no other occurrence. I’m a former military intelligence analyst and pretty good and searching databases, but of course I can’t go through the archives of every courthouse in the country. Besides, if trick-or-treating is (or ever was) so dangerous, wouldn’t it make more sense to stop trick-or-treating? When children are constantly and correctly being told not to accept candy… Read more »

@Dustin, the point is not that there has never been an offense against a minor on Halloween, but the point Is a RC didn’t commit it. That distinction with a difference matters because the laws are against the registered.

Never mind, AnotherAnon answered my question.

What Mr. Turner did, how he did it, when he did it, is irrelevant. As he had no prior sex offense conviction. As he would not have been required to register – had there been a registry back in the day. You say so yourself: “Turner has a clean criminal record at the time (one accusation, but no convictions) and wouldn’t have been registered anyway.” And perhaps “nothing changes the fact that Turner’s case is the only recorded occurrence of a sexual assault on a minor on Halloween.” but it has no bearing on the matter discussed here. Fact remains… Read more »

The lawyer on Avvo finally responded… in so many words, he said he only answers to those with detainers with him. Lol, he wouldn’t even reference his statement “Yes, last Halloween…”

‘“It is possible and plausible that some of these individuals may have gotten in a bad situation, but our job is to ensure that people aren’t victimized again,” Brown said.’
Let me translate: “It is possible and plausible, just like it is physically possible the sun won’t rise tomorrow, but I have no information to back up that claim, so let’s ruin Halloween for registrants, because we can.”

None the less. You stated “In 240 – some odd Halloweens in the US, there has never been one single instance of a sex offense committed against a minor on Halloween.” I just want to know where you came up with that ? You don’t have to convince me or us that the Halloween enforcement is a farce. We live it. I am asking for a reference to your statement…. nothing else. I want to use the reference in a case against this Halloween restriction. If you don’t have a reference, just say so. Just because Turner is the only… Read more »

“The DOCCS website states parolees are not allowed to have Halloween candy in their possession, but the spokesperson told The Appeal in an email, “Possessing candy is not a violation of parole.”” Actually, this isn’t necessarily true. A number of years ago, a friend of mine, who was on parole in Santa Clara County, was given, as a condition of his parole, that he could possess no more than one candy bar at any one time (his crime did not involve candy in any way but, apparently, the cultural “candyman” mythology was behind this bizarre restriction). As it turned out,… Read more »

The idiocy of this candy business just hurts my brain. But I think it is great that people who support the Registries show just how truly stupid they are.

Please look into Colton California too !!!!

Halloween restrictions are still in place in San Mateo county…..a county that also allows alleged offenders of non-minors to live anywhere, and yet anything that attracts children is forbidden for all registrants, regardless of their situation. I’m puzzled as to why it is so inconsistent across the state….in some places it is a city ordinance. In others a county ordinance. Sure wish we could challenge the ordinances across the board across the state, and back it up with the statistics such as no crime against a child has ever been committed on Halloween!! The compliance sweep our family experienced last… Read more »

Yep, I have never heard of a single instance of a registrant snatching or assaulting a kid who comes to trick or treat at his door on Halloween night. But I see numerous news stories EVERY YEAR of kids being hurt and killed by drunk drivers (and drivers who just didn’t see them on dark streets) on Halloween night. Halloween restrictions on registrants is purely idiotic policy. If these laws were truly about “protecting the children,” where are the restrictions that should exist for DUI offenders (who have a far higher recidivism rate) on Halloween?

I remember the horrible event last year when a trick or treater got run over and killed by a drunk driver. Considering the oft repeated justification that registrant restrictions COULD save the life of one child, someday, somewhere, somehow, just wondering why a child’s life, in those people’s moral estimation, is expendable, and these restrictions are not applied to other types of former offenders, because the cause of death is only alcohol or only violent assault or only a gun left in the wrong hands.

I have never once heard of a registrant snatching or assaulting a kid who comes to trick or treat at his door on Halloween night. Besides, the parents are usually waiting down on the sidewalk, so even if a registrant had ill intentions, the parents are standing 30 feet away.

However, I see news stories every year of kids getting hit by drunk drivers on Halloween night. Yet we never hear of restrictions for DUI offenders. Why is that?

As if it will matter, I sent this letter: Georgia Department of Community Supervision 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE Suite 458, East Tower Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909 Dear Sirs/Madams, Please find enclosed an article ( that documents that the Halloween directive imposed by the Ga DCS this year or any year prior does NOT protect any children from being a victim of a sex crime by a registered sex offender. The additional punishment that is imposed by the Ga DCS is in direct conflict with 21 studies and reports over the last years that indicate 95+% of registered sex… Read more »

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