Sex Offenders Living with Minors, Part I

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Every now and then I get a call—usually from a concerned citizen or a prosecutor—asking whether it’s okay for a sex offender to be living in the same residence as a minor. This post summarizes the restrictions on living with minors applicable to registered offenders who are still under supervision by the Department of Correction. In a subsequent post I’ll discuss the restrictions (or, as turns out to be the case, the lack of restrictions) on registered offenders generally.

Offenders under supervision for a conviction that requires registration or that involved the physical, mental, or sexual abuse of a minor must be subject to certain special conditions of probation under G.S. 15A-1343(b2) or post-release supervision under G.S. 15A-1368.4(b1). The substance of the mandatory conditions is the same for both types of supervisees. First, those convicted of offenses for which there was evidence of the sexual abuse of a minor may not reside in a household with any minor child. G.S. 15A-1343(b2)(4), -1368.4(b1)(4). Second, those convicted of offenses for which there was evidence of physical or mental abuse of a minor may only reside in a household a minor child if the court expressly finds that it is “unlikely that the defendant’s harmful or abusive conduct will recur and that it would be in the minor child’s best interest to allow the probationer to reside in the same household.” G.S. 15A-1343(b2)(5), -1368.4(b1)(5). Recall that the period of post release supervision for an offender convicted of a reportable Class B1 through E felony is 5 years—not the typical 9 months—so the condition has the potential to apply for some time. G.S. 15A-1368.2(c).

The court of appeals has upheld the mandatory prohibition on living in a household with a minor against a constitutional challenge. In State v. Strickland, 169 N.C. App. 193 (2005), the defendant was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child for having sex with his wife’s 13-year-old sister, who was living with the defendant, his wife, and their young son at the time. The court placed him on probation and, after finding that the offense involved the sexual abuse of a minor, ordered that he could not reside in any household with a minor child under G.S. 15A-1343(b2).

When Strickland continued to live with his family (including his son), his probation was revoked. He argued on appeal that the condition violated his fundamental right to the custody and care of his own child. The court of appeals disagreed, holding that a condition of probation may restrict a fundamental right if it is reasonably related to protecting the public and to rehabilitating the offender—and, the court concluded, this condition was. The court noted that the condition did not amount to a loss of custody of the child or a general prohibition on visiting the child in the home. Rather, it “simply prevented [Strickland] from also residing in that home for the probationary period.” The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that the condition should not apply because to him because his victim was not a blood relative, and there was no evidence that he ever abused his own child.

Note that these special conditions are mandatory for any offense that involves the physical, mental, or sexual abuse of a minor, not just for reportable crimes. As in the context of the satellite-based monitoring law, “physical, mental, or sexual abuse of a minor” is not defined in the probation statutes. One could imagine, for example, that certain non-reportable assaults might be deemed to involve the physical abuse of a minor, and thus trigger the mandatory special conditions, although there are no appellate cases on that issue. (I’m curious if any readers have seen it happen.) Page Two, Side Two of AOC-CR-603 guides the court through the appropriate findings and the special conditions themselves.

7 comments on “Sex Offenders Living with Minors, Part I

  1. I spent four month on probation for a sex offense (I violated and served my active sentence). Under the Sex Offender Control Program, not only may an offender not reside with anyone under the age of 18, but may not have ANY contact with ANY minor in a work, school, or social setting. In my case, the judge specified that I could live with my own children, but since my wife and I were separated, probation wouldn’t allow me any type of visitation at all. Basically, I could live with them, but since I wasn’t living with them, I couldn’t see them.

  2. So does that mean that ANY registered sex offender cannot live with a minor child even if the criminal offense had no involvement with a minor after successfully completing all the probation requirements?

    ie; the sex offender is no longer on probation, he/she did not commit a crime against a minor and was placed on the lowest level of registration.

    I’d like to know the answer to that.

  3. I was told that my 2 grandsons they could my stay here because sex offender;; their ages are 17 and 13 is this true?

  4. I would like to know the answer to that also. My ex wife decided to move a registered sex offender into her home with my 2 minor children, months before I found out. He’s been there about 4 months now. He was convicted of 2 counts of indecent liberties with a minor, a 10 yr old girl. This was a plea bargain down from rape… My 2 kids are 5 and 8, a girl and boy respectively. We have no custody order and I currently have my kids with me. In north carolina, doesn’t she have to notify me if she plans on doing this? Hes not on probation anymore, in fact I believe he just completed it before moving in. Im fighting for custody, period. Im not going to let this sick person have a chance to ruin my kids lives. I was just wondering if there was something that would help, like maybe she was in violation for not letting me know. Thank you for any clarification in advance. Phil.

  5. Yes. I want to know the answer to the questions which were raised.

    If a person is a convicted offender on the registry list, yet no actual minors were directly involved, (a total absence of physical molestation or rape, that is, photographs of strangers unwittingly downloaded from internet and having had no direct contact with said minors, yet convicted of an offense).
    After probation is completed, are they still forbidden to live in a home with minor children?

  6. I also would love to know this as well, i have two children both girls 4&7, my 4 year olds dad is a registered sex offender, which i didnt know at the time he was a S.O. but anyways, he is wanting custody of her (full) he is not on probation but the cops have to come out everymonth to see him physically. I was just wondering if he could get any kind of custody with her.

  7. if I knew this person was registered as a sex offender and had him around my kids could I get my kids taken away from me and custody be given to there biological father or can social services take them?? he is gone now but I did have him here for about a month.

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