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MO: Registered sex offenders in Dent County will have signs outside their home this Halloween

[ – 10/23/18]

SALEM, Mo. — We are now just 8 days away from Halloween and one local sheriff’s office here in the Ozarks wants to make it a safe night for all the kids going door to door. That’s why the Dent Co sheriff’s office wants a particular group of people to put a sign outside their home.

The Dent County Sheriff’s Office is asking all the registered sex offenders in the county and especially those inside the Salem city limits to put this sign reading, no treats or candy at this residence, somewhere outside their home for everyone to see on Halloween.

The posting of the sign is a law that all sex offenders under certain sections must abide by.

Currently there are 62 registered sex offenders in Dent County and 16 of those live inside the Salem city limits.

The sign must be visible for all to see.

“They can make their own sign. The statue just says that they have to post a sign and the sign says no treats or candy at this residence. There’s no requirements how this message is presented. All the statue says is they have it on the outside of their residence. There’s no location requirements or anything of that nature,” Whitney Capps with the Dent County Sheriff’s Office said.

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  1. David

    Unbelievable. 😖

  2. Anonymous

    I would Not post any sign. For what? Arrest me. We’ll fight it in court. I’ll win hands down.

  3. Dustin

    Noticed they only quoted one citizen supporting the this effort. Wonder if we can read into it that others that were spoken with by this reporter voiced that the effort is particularly stupid. Betting so…

  4. USA

    I’m very open minded, but this is sick! What else will they think of? Ie: can’t go to the mall? Children’s related movies? Beach? Certain cross walks? Children’s stores? I live in OC! I live in both a very upscale and nice area where I’ve read certain cities are very tough on crime, but yet we have massage parlors that have remained open for years that offer handjobs, blow jobs, NURU massages/nude massages, full sex and the women working in these establishments walk around have naked or like street walkers that you see in movies! I would say that there are like maybe (min) 6-7 of these establishments within 6-7 miles from me? One of the cities was the 1st to fight the Sanctuary City laws here in OC? The 2 massage parlors in this city are probably within 2-3 miles (same street) of City Hall? Hypocrites? The other establishments (1 in particular) is located across from a Church and within 1/2 mile from a pre school? I’m still in shock!

    • Dustin

      @ USA:

      Actually, the places you asked about were restricted to registrants in the early days of registry restrictions, and still are in many. Most definitely for parolees and probationers.

  5. Nicholas Maietta

    This is compelled speech.

    In the following video news clip at the International Megan’s’ Law protest at the Federal Courthouse in Oakland, CA, when Janice Bellucci was interviewed by ABC 10’s Lilia Luciano of Sacramento. She makes a valid point:

    “So when most people think about the First Amendment, all they think about is the right to say something but you also have a right to be silent and the fact is with this law you cannot remain silent about whether or not you’ve been convicted of a registered sex offense and whether or not you are quote “like to engage in child sex tourism”. So the government is basically sending notices to our government, to foreign countries saying you are likely to engage in child sex tourism.” — Janice Bellucci, IML Oakland, 2016.

    This is my understanding: There is no State Law or municipal code that can constitutionally compelled speech, especially without our Constitution’s ex-post facto clause:

    Article I, Section 10, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution prohibits retroactively altering the definition of a crime, increasing punishment for a criminal act or punish conduct that was legal when committed.

    While posting a sign itself is not currently considered “punishment” with a likely excuse that it is part of community notification, this was not within the law at the times of convictions of these people affected by the current rules. This definitely falls under government-compelled speech, a violation of the First Amendment.

    If i were a registrant or a family member affected by these rules set out by local government bodies, i would record trespassing by persons who place the sign, getting as much information as I could on them, license plate, car, faces, etc. Try to get them on video with a statement of why they are doing it. (I’m just doing as i’m told, et cetera). I would also go ahead and receive the violation of my rights, then i would consult with a constitutional rights attorney who knows something or two about sex offender laws and work to take this to court. I would not settle either, to make sure a ruling has an effect beyond myself.

    • CR

      @Nicholas Maietta – “If i were a registrant or a family member affected by these rules set out by local government bodies, i would record trespassing by persons who place the sign …”

      Yes, if that is the way it happens. However, often it is the offender himself who places the sign because of a sentence or condition of probation or parole. There was a case from Fort Worth discussed here recently about a preacher who was required to post such a sign in his yard. The court made it his responsibility to obtain the sign from a court-approved sign-maker, and place it in his yard.

      Either way, it is compelled speech. It is not an uncommon practice in parts of Texas, and it is not a recent phenomenon. Judges in the Corpus Christi area have required it of registrants for many years. I haven’t read any cases challenging it on the basis of compelled speech, and haven’t looked for any. You would think there must have been some. If so, it would be good to know how the cases were disposed.

      • Nicholas Maietta

        I didn’t catch in the article that these people are specifically on probation or parole. Even so, conditions of parole can only legally be applied if the condition is directly a nexus to the crime.

        I successfully argued to have my computer and drinking rights restored after filing a CDCR 602 form against my parole agent and supervisor for arbitrarily removing my access to computers and smartphones, (anything internet connected) as well as ability to drink alcohol.

  6. jist a nobody

    it is illegal to order RC who are off paper to stay home?

    • Will Allen

      They may have “laws” that say they can do that but it is not legal. Just remember that they had “laws” that said slavery was legal.

      They are criminal regimes.

  7. Eric

    I would really like the stats of how many children are injured or killed by drunk drivers this Halloween, how many minors overdoes on drugs or alcohol, how many dealers are arrested for selling to minors, how many cases of child abuse in the home are reported and compare it to how many people on the registry offend minors this Halloween. I am sure that would be a very sobering statistic. I thnk if that were posted in in the media for all to see things would change. So I guess that’s why it won’t get done.

    • TS


      Found this AP article today which addresses your data interest about kids killed on Halloween related to traffic:

      Halloween can be deadly for pedestrians, traffic study says

      -43% higher death risk on October 31
      -608 deaths on 42 Halloweens
      -55 deaths of kids 4-8 yrs old
      -NHTSA Data
      -CDC has similar data in their study (’75-’96)
      -Alcohol is a factor
      -Canadian study of USA data

      Study is in JAMA Pediatrics with more info and data,
      Pedestrian Fatalities Associated With Halloween in the United States,

      Take this data, ACSOL, et al, and compare it against registrant data for Halloween next time this point needs to be made to those who hammer registrants on Halloween.

  8. MoMo

    589.426. Halloween, restrictions on conduct — violations, penalty. — 1. Any person required to register as a sexual offender under sections 589.400 to 589.425 shall be required on October thirty-first of each year to:

      (1) Avoid all Halloween-related contact with children;

      (2) Remain inside his or her residence between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. unless required to be elsewhere for just cause, including but not limited to employment or medical emergencies;

      (3) Post a sign at his or her residence stating, “No candy or treats at this residence”; and

      (4) Leave all outside residential lighting off during the evening hours after 5 p.m.

      2. Any person required to register as a sexual offender under sections 589.400 to 589.425 who violates the provisions of subsection 1 of this section shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

    • AJ

      They can write whatever they want into statutes, but it doesn’t mean they’re constitutional. Any reasonable court will see that items 2 & 3 violate my liberty interests and/or fundamental rights. Making me stay inside is at minimum an illegal detention, but also an infringement upon my First Amdt. right of travel and association. The sign is blatantly compelled speech, another First Amdt. violation. Numbers 1 & 4 also reek of being unconstitutional, but easy answers escape my grasp right now.

      Also, Number 2 is vague. What is “just cause”? Who defines that? I went outside to pass gas because my spouse gets mad. Is that just cause? I walked around my property for exercise, is that just cause?

      As @Anonymous said, I would refuse and then see them in court…and win. (I’d be sure to have contacted my attorney ahead of time so he’s ready for my call from jail. 😉 )

    • Staci

      I am the Missouri contact for NARSOL (National Association for National Sex Offense Laws). Please email me at Missouri residents need to start joining forces.

  9. Ron

    Write it on a matchbox and thumbtack it to the back door. – there are no sizr or location requirements. – then take a picture to protect yourself.

    • wonderin

      Or Write a postcard size sign but place a LARGE sign more conspicuously next to a candy bowl saying: “Please only take one” and give out anything you want (besides treats or candy ) I might suggest a small reflector or perhaps a card saying: You are precious, please watch out for cars while crossing the street tonight. There are some dangerous people out tonight.

  10. Richard

    I Live in Buchanan County Mo. inwich is known as the city of, Saint joseph and they require every registered citizen to Place a sign on there door and be in with lights off outside between the hrs of 5 and 10:30pm on Halloween now Im not on paper off paper now 11 yrs and conviction 16 yrs old Long before most of these civil regulation type laws I have spoke with a couple attorneys and still looking for one who will file a civil suit against the county for rights violations not looking to go to jail I have complied for many years and will until told dont need to but this years violations I am looking to make them pay for attorney referrals would be appreciated

    • AJ

      You’d probably be well-served to try to find a civil rights attorney out of KC. Being from a larger city, and not in bed with the local politicians and judges, a KC lawyer may do better for you. Were I you, I’d call one and get a free consultation (almost all lawyers give 30′ free). Another route would be to contact the Institute for Justice ( IJ has fought sign laws and has submitted amici in SCOTUS cases (NIFLA and Reed, both mentioned below), so they’re well-involved in signage First Amdt. issues.

      There are certainly plenty of cases out there which hold this type of stuff blatantly unconstitutional. These signs are absolutely content-based regulation of your speech. As such, it’s subject to the highest level of scrutiny (strict) by the courts, and the burden is on the Government to show why the law must stand.

      The most recent case about this type of stuff is NIFLA v. Becerra ( There’s also a really good case out of the Eastern District of NY ( that mirrors what’s going on here.

      The fundamental SCOTUS case law for this type of stuff is Reed v. Town of Gilbert (, Riley v. Nat’l Fed. of the Blind of NC (, and Wooley v. Maynard (

      Unless you’re able to hire a local lawyer quickly and get an injunction, this fight isn’t going to be solved by this Halloween. It really is a pretty clear-cut case, so even in MO State Courts you shouldn’t have a problem winning. (State court fights are typically quite a bit cheaper than Federal ones.)

      • Richard

        Thank you AJ for the info I am going to pursue this and will be sure to update when Attorney agrees to take this to court always enjoy your comments thanks for being there during this fight.

        • Will Allen

          Please do. It seems like you could get a court injunction quickly enough to stop their crimes for this year. Then make them pay for all of your expenses and punitive damages. F those anti-American criminals.

        • AJ

          You’re quite welcome, and thanks for the kind words. I see there’s a pro bono group in MO that may be able to help you, and they even have an office in St. Joe. Check out and see what they can and will do for you. (See the very bottom right of the page under “Our Offices” for the St. Joe info.)

          I noticed I failed to address the other prong of the law, being sequestered in your home during certain hours. That is simply a polite way of saying, “under house arrest.” House arrest is a form of imprisonment (, and imprisonment is “the paradigmatic affirmative disability or restraint” (Smith v. Doe,

          As well, house arrest is certainly somewhere along the “continuum of possible punishments” SCOTUS addressed in Griffin v. WI (
          Probation is simply one point (or, more accurately, one set of points) on a continuum of possible punishments ranging from solitary confinement in a maximum security facility to a few hours of mandatory community service. A number of different options lie between those extremes, including confinement in a medium or minimum security facility, work-release programs, “halfway houses,” and probation — which can itself be more or less confining depending upon the number and severity of restrictions imposed.
          I hope you’re able to find some legal help to attack this horrible assault on constitutional rights. Yes, please keep us informed of progress.

    • Staci

      I am the Missouri contact for NARSOL (National Association for National Sex Offense Laws). Please email me at Missouri residents need to start joining forces.

  11. Chris F

    Does anyone know, at what point are police or policy makers not protected from prosecution for violating a person’s constitutional rights? If they just claim they are doung thier job or protecting the public, can they get away with anything short of beating or detaining you?

    • AJ

      @Chris F:
      “If they just claim they are doung thier job or protecting the public, can they get away with anything short of beating or detaining you?”
      Pretty much, yeah. With LEOs, it’s even worse. They get wiiiide latitude for their actions when time is of the essence…including shooting and killing a guy defending himself and his girlfriend when they busted into the wrong property (nor was it a 4th Amdt. violation). Beatings seem to get a bit more scrutiny, as anything beyond that needed to subdue is a no-no. Detention, it seems, usually doesn’t cause much heartburn. I know of cases in a Southern State where people would sit for months just to get arraigned, due to court staffing shortages. (I think it’s fixed now.)

      Pretty much any government official is protect unless it can be shown they had prior knowledge their actions violated law or constitution. It makes sense to a point, but it also begs for abuse.

  12. Lovecraft

    Love the town name…Salem.

  13. mark

    totally ILLEGAL.. its called COMPELLING SPEECH !

  14. Lynne

    Thanks for all of the similar court cases as well as the information on the pro bono group. I am in Missouri and my spouse went on the registry a year ago; we are currently living apart (residence restrictions and he was kicked out of his home of almost 20 years) until our youngest graduates from high school this year. I am not looking forward to having to place a sign on the door. Once he gets off probation, I can assure you that what I place on the sign will not be nice. I am documenting this information and will be using it once he is off probation. I plan to be screaming about the injustices of this as soon as I can. Probation, a child in high school, and a job in the public eye are the things keeping me from it now.

  15. G4Change

    Actually, this is what happens in Missouri. This law was actually ruled unconstitutional as applied retroactively, and then, guess what, now they can still enforce it. Because that’s what happens in a state that doesn’t have an organization like ACSOL and attorneys like Janice, etc. who fight for human rights.
    The ACLU in Missouri doesn’t give a F**K about registered citizens. Also, it looks like in Missouri they now have a 3 Tier law and they can just label anyone they want a Tier 3 – even if all they have on their record is a single Misdemeanor. And what can registered citizens in Missouri do about all of this abuse??? NOTHING unless they have LOTS OF MONEY. That’s because the private attorneys in Missouri all seem to want HUGE RETAINERS just to look into your case. And, gee, for some reason, registered citizens don’t seem to have a lot of money laying around. I wonder why that is????
    This entire rant is to say that ALL OF YOU in California had better thank your lucky stars that you have Janice, Chance, and ACSOL around BECAUSE THEY HAVE YOUR BACK!!!!
    Because in Missouri (and probably a bunch of other states), nobody is here for registered citizens – unless of course you’re rich!!!!

    • Staci

      I am the Missouri contact for NARSOL (National Association for National Sex Offense Laws). Please email me at Missouri residents need to start joining forces.

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