An Update on Places Sex Offenders Can’t Go

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An amended statute and a recent case improve our understanding of places sex offenders cannot live and go in North Carolina.

First, the statute. Under G.S. 14-208.16, a registered sex offender may not reside within 1,000 feet of a school or child care center. The law has always defined “child care center” by reference to G.S. 110-86(3), which defines a child care center as “an arrangement where, at any one time, there are three or more preschool-age children or nine or more school-age children receiving child care.” “Child care,” in turn, is defined as a “program or arrangement where three or more children less than 13 years old, who do not reside where the care is provided, receive care on a regular basis of at least once per week for more than four hours but less than 24 hours per day from persons other than their guardians or full-time custodians, or from persons not related to them by birth, marriage, or adoption.” G.S. 110-86(2). The definition then goes on to exclude 11 types of care, like certain home care arrangements, recreational programs, and drop-in care at a place like a gym or church. In short, it’s a very specific definition that excludes some things that many people would probably think are covered.

Legislation signed into law by the governor on June 24, 2014, S.L. 2014-21 (H 777), amends G.S. 14-208.16 to fill one perceived gap in the statute. The amendment provides that the term “child care center” does, for purposes of the sex offender residency restriction, include “permanent locations of organized clubs of Boys and Girls Clubs of America.” The amended definition applies to all persons registered or required to register on or after June 24, 2014, but does not apply to a person who established his or her residence prior to that date. That grandfather clause allows an otherwise prohibited person to continue living in a residence near a Boys and Girls Club if he or she established the residence before the law came into effect. For a discussion of how a residence is “established,” see this prior post.

The recent case, State v. Simpson, bears on where sex offenders may be (as opposed to where they may reside). Under G.S. 14-208.18, certain sex offenders may not knowingly be:

(1)    On the premises of any place intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including but not limited to schools, children’s museums, child care centers, nurseries, and playgrounds;

(2)    Within 300 feet of any location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors when the place is located on premises that are not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, places described in (1) that are located in malls, shopping centers, or other property open to the general public; or

(3)    At any place where minors gather for regularly scheduled education, recreational, or social programs.

In State v. Simpson, decided yesterday by the court of appeals, the defendant, a registered sex offender, was found sitting on a bench near the batting cage and ball field at Cub Creek Park in Wilkesboro. An off-duty officer saw him there and called the police. He was arrested and charged under option (2) above—being within 300 feet of any location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors that is located on premises that are not intended primarily for minors. (I discussed the “location within a place” nature of the 300-foot rule in this prior post.)

The court of appeals rejected the defendant’s argument that the State’s indictment was defective because it failed to specify that the place (the park) within which the prohibited location (the batting cage and ball field) was located was not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors. Naming the park was enough to give the defendant sufficient notice of the accusation.

As to the substance of the charge, however, the court agreed with the defendant that the batting cage and ball field were not shown to be locations intended primarily for use by minors. Batting cages and ball fields are of course used by minors—there was even testimony that children were in line at the cage while the defendant was there. But unlike the prohibited locations explicitly listed in the statute (playgrounds and children’s museums, for example), it is not self-evident that batting cages and ball fields are intended primarily for minors. Unless the State shows some “special circumstances” to the contrary, they are presumably intended to be used by adults, too.

Simpson helps clarify our understanding of what sort of “location within a place” triggers the 300-foot rule, but questions will surely remain. For some locations the primary intended use will be a close call, like some swimming pools, athletic facilities, arcades, and areas within bookstores to name a few. In light of Simpson, the parties should be prepared to show facts about the location (the typical clientele, the décor, the depth of the pool, the dimensions of the field, the type of games or books present, etc.) that help demonstrate the primary intended use.

28 comments on “An Update on Places Sex Offenders Can’t Go

  1. i am looking for a Laywer to help remove me from this Draconic Reporting. More than 26 years since purported offence. No prison time, Tier 1 (in Tiered states in compliance) Here in NC. no tiering , henceforth, remanded to practically ‘house-arrest’. since as in ‘above’ everywhere is “public”and has more than 3 children !

    Finished probation period, fines, therapy, and forensic examinations (not pedophile). Long long time ago. Public notification “IS” double jeapordy, since Megans and Walsh laws were not thought of , when i was sentenced. (plea only, no trial). Alot of problems with that , too.

    I have some resources. but have lost all work since Megans law. 1995. and subject to constant public humiliation and harassment. (thanks “bible belt NC”. Even Churches – persona non-gratis-

    • My opinion is that you should have thought of all that BEFORE you committed your said offense

      • Like you’re perfect. Jesus said a sin, was a sin…that you’re just as bad when you violate any of His laws. He does not condemn someone who killed a said person any less than a sex offender. I’m not saying you’re a murderer, but the only perfect person who ever walked this Earth was Jesus, and you are not Him!

        • So jesus said you can molest children? We are supposed to protect children from being raped, not hide behind the bible. The law does not care what Jesus said, neither do I. It is not ok to touch a child sexually, and it has nothing to do with the bible.

  2. My fiance lives within the 1000 foot radius of a local school in Wilmington. A deputy has told me that I cannot spend a single overnight at her residence, and i can be arrested for doing so. I do NOT reside at the address in question. Is what the officer says true? This appears to be a grey area in the law. Can anyone help answer this question?

    • You be OK there I’m in the same boat look up nc laws

  3. What about a church preschool that operates 8:30 to 11:30. They are not licensed as they are exempt because they are a church?

  4. What is the law of living within 1000 foot of a church preschool? Isn’t there a required number of hours of operation? Also shouldn’t the pre school be licensed if it is going to fall under the statute?
    The statute states the school must register to receive notification of offender living with in a mile radius and it specifically states elementary, middle and high school but leaves out a church preschool.

  5. My bf Is a registered sex offender and there are places we want to take our grandkids and yes he’s allowed to be with them he went through all the programs paid his fines and done with probation. Never did any jail time. But places like paramount parks dolly wood celebration station are places we want to go with them and their parents but uncertain if we can.

  6. My goodness is there not an actual list of places that are not safe to go? It’s obvious no schools, play grounds, parks, recreation areas or childcare places. What about malls, museums, restaurants, stores, etc.. I can’t seem to find a real list of safe places. Just listing laws and statutes isn’t good enough.. Who is going to measure 300ft or 1000ft before going out? I mean.. How do you know how far that actually is in reality? It’s not like an offender carries a 300ft tape measure in their pockets to measure how far away they are, based on the laws that too would be a violation. I don’t understand why they are forced to live a life of condemnation after their original punishments in prison. Registration does nothing but make life a living hell for them and their families. It doesn’t protect anyone. If a true sex criminal wants to do something, the registering isn’t going to stop them. This is crazy especially for those registered innocent ones who took a plea instead of going to trial. I find it unfair and unjust.

    • I so do agree with you. These laws are so vague and ridiculous! Those that try to follow this ridiculous continued punishment pay dearly day in and day out. How do they expect anyone to live a normal life? How long is too long for these insane Witch Hunt laws going to continue.

      • Well,said and so, true!! People better wakeup and get sane!! This nothing but modern day slavery….

    • What do you consider a true sex criminal? I think if a person has been tried and convicted then they fall in the catagory of a true sex criminal. If an offense has occurred then there is a victim. So what about the victim? What about the little life that has been tramatized by the unfortunate act. What about protecting other potential victims. That is why the registry is set up. So others are protected from the same fate.

      • Yeah well what about the little teens that like to act adult and lie to young men in college or seniors in highschool about there age? What about those young men that have there lives completely destroyed, do they not matter either? It is too vague and yes I agree that to an extent there needs to be a list in place for the TRUE perverts and predators but there are far too many young men that do not deserve a life ruining sentece! Wake up!!! Furthermore if I teeny bopper decides to lie and falsely leads a young man into these situations then there should be consequences for them too. I have seen too many of my college friends and friends even in highschool get destroyed from these situations. Downtown night clubs are terrible for this happening!

        • At 17 years old I had a girl would drove to my home, had a drivers licence that looked real to me, her family was all for us dating, and we even went place with her family. I was told by her upfront by her she was 16 and she sure looked the age. When I found out she had lied to me about where she had been with a boy I stopped seeing her. Eleven months later she gave birth. I was arrested for Statutory rape. The outcome was 20 years in prison or pay for the child for 18 years. I paid for the child’s support with the understand the child would be removed from the home. The court agreed, I made the best decision for both of us even though I proved the child was not mine. The girl was 14 when she gave birth to the child. I was not allowed to make contact with any of them and until the child turned 21 years of age and found me I never did. WAS this fair to me? No, but I have a relationship with my beautiful child and her family.
          No I was not required to resister and the records were sealed, but all three of us were punished.

      • What about the ones that lie? What about courts and society that makes mistakes? What other crimes ? You think they want do them again? You are not punishing them for the rest of their lives. This is stupid law and need to be addressed!!!!

    • I completely agree. My fiancé and our family is in the same hassle. Never been to a concert in my life. Nor him. There’s a free one in Lexington tonight. But probably can’t go bc he fears the Shizzy law. I understand him fearing. But he’s not going to re offend. I know him. Have known him since before the law did technically. I’ve known him since before all this Shizz. And he’s the same now only more fearful and hates life. All bc the damn government. I’ve thrown so many people out my life bc of him. Excuse me! For him. Bc they judge him before they actually know anything of him more than him charges. Half the time don’t even care to know him name or see his face. We are facin eviction as well. Within the next few weeks we are waiting on the notice. I mean we are broke people. Always have been. Always will be. Have no one to stay with. Will be lucky to ins a place to live or even be allowed to stay til we can get housing assistance IF we can to move away on our own. Our dogs are our babies. And MANY can relate to that statement. Wouldn’t give em up for the world. He has one joy: playing guitar. And he’s damn well good at it. But once that notice hits us..life is it. Bc if he doesn’t have a residential address he goes back to jail. And all his stuff an mine and our dogs will be on the streets with me. I mean we have a brand new 2016 car out in the driveway. But we only have it bc of a loan from the bank and if we didn’t have it we would have no transportation. I’ve been looking for a place for a year. No one will take me to apply for housing assistance which makes it all a more pain and struggle..and at that income based renting is the ONLY way we would afford ANY place. We can’t even afford a 200 month place. And also when we get the notice we will really be struggling bc him with no where to go makes him go to jail. An me no where to go and currently have a less than part time minimum wage job being homeless on te streets would be unsanitary and cause me to lose me job. I love my job but I cry everyday b I know it’s not enough. And being a high school 12th grade drop out is a major screw up on my behalf. He was made to quit school when his charges hit. And neither of us go to GED anymore. I mean hey why should we when we don’t have gas for it. All the way 2 r 3 cities over only once or twice a week is enough to make it a lot more struggle on us. 600 month rent where we are at. Behind almost a complete three months. And a car payment. About to lose it. So no car soon. No home soon. Then no job. No one would allow a registered offender his fiancé and their 3 dogs and stuff to move in with them long enough to get them selves a income
      Based place. I that for a fact. I wouldn’t dare post for so on Craigslist or anything bc everyone will blow u email up trashing u. I know bc I’ve done so bc of desperately seeking food. Has to take it down bc we were being harassed and false accusations. And the law just hung up on me when I tried to ask them about it. We don’t know what to do. We need help..but there’s nothing else we can do.

    • Me too.

    • My question is why would you want to date a man that is on a registered sex offenders list?? What is your attraction to a person that has that background?? Are you turned on by that? You could always date a person that has a clean record…

      • Yeah there is always a chance you take whenever you meet anybody new.. You could find a guy with a Clean record and then his true nature finally gets exposed and he is one of those offenders who had hidden there sickness from everyone.. Then some people have been convicted or taken a plea who are actually innocent.. Then they are guys that made a bad choice when they was young and have made changes to become a model citizen and would never hate a woman, child etc.. So if a mans true nature is good no matter what is in the past who are we to judge. But those who are real predators and rapist have to to be put in a different category and closely watched. They are a few in every town that are on the registry that can be trusted and their true nature is not to offend or re-offend don’t judge everyone as a whole.. Everybody on that registry is not am monster. I’ve known a couple and they was some of the best and most trusted people I’ve ever met..if u think every person who is labeled a sex offender is not worth something then u must not have the understanding that courts are corrupted people get lied on people take pleas bc its significantly less time that what you are facing.. You have to look at the circumstances and facts about each individual and then make ur assessment..prejudging a person is so wrong ..I’m not saying don’t take precautions ..just pay attention closely to a person.. Their real self will always shit itself.. Got to know want to look for

      • There are ways to sperate the good from the bad but as a whole the registry is really a joke a hassle for the ones that are innocent or wouldn’t re-offend bc they keep getting persecuted by the public with an unfair label but the bad ones that need to be truly watched can slip thru the cracks over and over again bc u can’t keep the attention that is needed on them …if u put things in a risk factor order then put the attention where it’s needed then we could cut out more of the re-offending

    • You’re not the only one in that boat Laura. I’ve been trying to find a site that lists the rights registered sex offenders have, if any at all. They’re quick to say what they can’t do, but they don’t inform of what they CAN do. My husband had a fairly decent job, but he couldn’t take the pressure that job constituted by his boss. I do have some remorse for him, but now he’s going through the same process to find a job again. Although he has two degrees in computer engineering, he can’t find any employers that will hire him b//c he doesn’t pass background checks required for the job. In the meantime, while he is searching for a job, I’d like to spend time with him, even if it includes public areas. Before he offended, we went on the boardwalk behind the local community college to exercise everyday. It became like a ritual to us. Now, he’s scared to even walk on the campus. ( Law officers have scared him to death with the sex offender laws. He only viewed bad porn, and it was just ONE corrupt file on Shareaza that he really did not know of the contents of. However, with his knowledge of computers, he should have known better not to download. I really sympathize for him, although I feel like he was stupid.) I seriously wish law markers would make categories of this crime, and not punish all for the same crime? There is truly no redemption for these people, although some do not touch or harm any individual.

    • I also feel it’s unfair & unjust. I was accused of touching a young girl. Took & passed polygraph, but could be used in court of law. Was advised to take the Alford plea to a lesser charge. Have gone through required sex offender program, served two years probation & my name was placed on the register.
      Would like to take our grandchildren to places, but unsure as to where I can & cannot attend.
      If a polygraph results is not allowed in a court of law, then the use of all polygraph testing should be illegal from top federal level to local police dept.

  7. What’s worse is for people like me who is not a pedophile, predator and is a non-violent offender (plead to the 3rd degree, lvl 1 back in 2005 NYC), gets treated like we are the scum of the world. I am currently homeless and having the hardest time looking for a place in NC.

  8. Im on the registration been up there since 2004 and i only took a plea which sounded great to go home and be put on probation the same day and i didnt honestly touch the boy. I regret taking the plea deal to have to be labeled and being innocent.they make it so hard for the ones who actually arent perverts to get off the registration and live.i just want to end my life because i cant get a job to support my kids and attend funtions.the whole system is just so messed up for those who aren’t pedophiles.

  9. Are there any restrictions abut going to NC beaches, particularly to Wrightsville Beach?

  10. what about a registered offender attending a youth soccer game in Mecklenburg Co? he has been warned not to come but says he has the right to watch his son play. do we call authorities if he shows up?

    • Call the authorities on him for wanting to watch his child play soccer? Wow you need some Jesus. Don’t throw rocks if you’re living in a glass house. God can forgive but I guess you’re better than the creator.

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