The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

'Operation Boo' and Other Halloween Sex Offender Laws

Halloween might just be the most fun day of the year. As a kid, nothing is better than getting to stay up late, dress up like a Power Ranger, and score buckets and buckets of candy. For young adults, it's an excuse to dress in the most odd and obscene outfits one can imagine and get plastered.

For parents, however, it can be a worrisome day. There are a myriad of dangers that are exacerbated by Halloween, including lead-tainted costumes, drunk drivers, and worst of all, child predators. California gets it. That's why they have the following rules that restrict the movement of sex offenders. It's still a good idea to check the Megan's Law website and plan your trick-or-treating route accordingly, but these laws will hopefully add an extra bit of peace of mind.

Operation Boo

For parolees previously convicted of a sex offense, Operation Boo greatly restricts their freedom on Halloween night. There is a 5pm to 5am curfew during which parolees must stay indoors. All exterior lights of that residence must be extinguished. No candy and no holiday decorations are allowed. Finally, the only time the sex offender is allowed to open the door is if law enforcement stops by on one of its random checks.

That's not all. The parole officers haven't forgotten about the homeless registered sex offenders. For those living on the streets, if they are near one of the major cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego), they will be brought to a "special center" for monitoring between 5pm and 10pm. For those living too far from a detention area, they will be monitored by GPS and not allowed to leave certain pre-established "zones".

For anyone besides sex offenders, we'd call that unconstitutional. Still, the state has an interest in protecting its children which probably outweighs the detrimental effect on parolees' rights.

City Ordinances

An important thing to note is that the above laws only apply to parolees who are under active supervision. As of last year, that was only about 11 percent of the 92,000 registered sex offenders in the state, reports ABC San Francisco.

Simi Valley has recently made the news for dealing with many of the remaining 79 percent. The city recently passed an ordinance that has the same restrictions as Operation Boo, plus a requirement that all sex offenders have a sign in front of their house that states, "No candy or treats at this residence," reports NBC Los Angeles.

The city ordinance only applies to those who are listed on the Megan's Law website, which does not include misdemeanor sex offenses. Still, it goes much farther in protecting children from (and infringing upon the right of) sex offenders on Halloween.

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