Sex Offender Residency Restriction Clarified

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A registered sex offender may not knowingly reside within 1,000 feet of a school or child care center. G.S. 14-208.16. That restriction was enacted in 2006, S.L. 2006-247, and applies to all registered sex offenders in North Carolina, regardless of their particular crime or date of offense. A violation of the law is a Class G felony.

The residency restriction law has two exceptions that exclude certain sex offenders from its coverage. Both exceptions, which operate as grandfather clauses that protect certain registrants’ property interests, were likely included in the in an effort to avoid some of the litigation that had arisen regarding other states’ residency restrictions around that time. See, e.g., Mann v. Georgia Dept. of Corr., 653 S.E.2d 740 (Ga. 2007) (holding that Georgia’s similar restriction violated the Takings Clause by forcing a sex offender to move out of his home, without compensation, when a child care center opened nearby).

The first exception is for changes in the ownership or use of property within 1,000 feet of a registrant’s address that occur after the registrant establishes residency. G.S. 14-208.16(d). In other words, if the sex offender was there first, he or she does not have to move away if a school or child care center opens up nearby. The statute provides three ways in which a residence can be “established” for purposes of applying the exception:

  • Purchasing or entering into a specifically enforceable contract to purchase the residence;
  • Entering into a written lease for the residence; and
  • Residing with an immediate family member “who established residence in accordance with this subsection [G.S. 14-208.16(d)].” Immediate family member is defined as a child or sibling who is at least 18 years old, or a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or spouse of the registrant.

The second exception, broader than the first, is that the restriction does not apply at all to any registrant who established a residence before the law came into effect in 2006. Unlike the first exception, the second exception was not initially written into G.S. 14-208.16 itself. It was, rather, included in the effective date clause of the legislation that enacted that statute. S.L. 2006-247, § 11.(c) (“Subsection (a) of this section does not apply to a person who has established a residence prior to the effective date of this subsection.”). The same methods of establishing residence applicable to the first exception (purchase, lease, or residing with an immediate family member) also apply to the second exception.

Not everyone interpreted the second exception the same way. First, because it was in the session law but not the codified statute, some people apparently were not aware of it at all. Second, there was some confusion about the triggering date of the exception, with some people reading the law to exclude registrants who established a residence before December 1, 2006 (the date mentioned in §11.(c) of S.L. 2006-247), and others thinking the residence had to have been established by August 16, 2006 (the day the governor signed the bill into law). Third (and perhaps most significantly), there were differences of opinion about the proper interpretation of the “reside with an immediate family member” method of establishing residence. Some thought the exception applied only if the registrant actually moved in with the immediate family member before the law’s effective date, regardless of when the family member purchased or leased the residence. Others read that exception to relate back to the date the immediate family member established the residence, even if the registrant himself or herself didn’t live there until later. The latter reading had some support in the statute (the law refers to immediate family members who establish residence “in accordance with this subsection,” arguably bringing them within the law’s overall effective date fold), but people disagreed.

Legislation enacted this year, effective when it became law on April 16, 2013, attempted to address all three of those concerns. S.L. 2013-28. First, the legislation wrote the second exception into G.S. 14-208.16(a) itself, bringing it out of the shadows of the session laws. Second, the now-codified second exception makes clear that it applies as of August 16, 2006—not December 1 of that year.

Finally, the legislation attempted to clarify that the exception is measured by the date the registrant establishes residency, and does not relate back to the date the residence was established by an immediate family member. A pointed clause in the legislation’s preamble defined the problem the revised law was intended to address:

“Whereas, law enforcement officials mistakenly believe, based only upon the codified portion of the [2006] law . . . that a registered sex offender can legally reside within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center if the offender moves in with a family member who had established residence at the location prior to the effective date of the law, even though the offender did not establish residence at the location prior to August 16, 2006 . . . .”

That framing of the issue should make clear (to people who read session laws, at least) that revised G.S. 14-208.16(a) is intended to exclude only those registrants who themselves established a residence before August 16, 2006, and that the exclusion does not relate back to the date an immediate family member established residence. Any registrant who was residing with an immediate family member under a former interpretation of the law probably should have moved out after April 16, 2013.

44 comments on “Sex Offender Residency Restriction Clarified

  1. I would love to see some type of research that indicates that this law prevents crime. My guess is that no such research exists nor will ever be initiated. I would be all for this law if it could be shown that it acutally enhances public safety.

    Question:
    On August 17, 2006 a subject purchases a home that is 999 feet from a public school. He lives at the home with his wife and children. He is convicted/registered on 10-24-2013 of Sexual Battery of an adult victim. Does he have to move? According to the law, the answer would be yes. Right??

    • Thank you for your common sense thoughts. So a person can’t LIVE within a thousand feet but can drive close to a school or day care all they want? The law is so arbitrary

  2. The Sex offender registry is a form of LIVING DEATH and because of that fact it’s existence is a slap in the face of God. No Patriot, Christian and Constitutionalist can be for the sex offender registry in any form. That is if they really looked close at what it is and represents. Proverbs 16:25 states, “There is a way to a man that seems Right but the end thereof is the ways of death.” The sex offender registry is such a form of death (a Living Death). It by it’s very nature is punitive with no ending added measures against a person that otherwise has paid their debt to society. It offers no redemption. It is evil and it is wrong! I would debate any preacher or politician on it’s violation of spiritual law (the gospel) and Constitutional law. The debate would be quite non-challenging for me because of truth. That is why most preachers and politicians refrain from such a debate.

    • I would agree with you Robert. I am on this page because my 31 year old son is being released in 6 months after serving 4 years for 2nd degree sexual assault of a minor. He was 22 at the time, the girl was 16. There was no rape or assault. It was consensual sex. The parents knew of the relationship and testified for my son, stating it was others who were responsible for reporting this. There was no one to testify at his hearing and because he confessed to the crime the judge had to sentence him with no witnesses or testimony. As I was strongly against my sons actions, testimoney for his side proved he resisted constant requests from the victim to see him, have relations with him, etc. Again the girl, nor her family filed charges. I do not agree with my sons choices, but does he really have to suffer the rest of his life for consensual sex with a young woman who was already sexually active, her parents were informed and they did not want my son charges ? Now in preparation for his release, we are having to work very diligently to find him appropriate living arrangements. He finally has some idea through classes in prison as to what he will deal with for the rest of his life, for making the mistake of having consensual sex with an underage girl. Not a child, a teenager, who pursued him strongly, sexually. I feel someone has to address this issue. My son will have served almost 5 years in prison. He will forever struggle due to the registry, with being profiled as a pedafile. He couldn’t be MORE of the all american boy. How many young men do you know that has sex with teenage girls??? Plenty. Do I agree with it, no. But if people really think young women of that age, in this day and age do not know the difference between consensual sex and rape? I don’t buy it. My son is a talented young man who deserves a chance and should not spend the REST OF HIS LIFE answering to this one timeframe of poor judgement.

      • Americans have traded their freedom for alleged ” safety “. It is so maddening how arbitrary the age of consent is.

      • You should be questioning the judicial system as to how come your son gets 4yrs and it was consensual but yet a female teacher at a mentally handicapped school gets charged and convicted for indesint liberties with a student. she said she did nothing wrong and only got a year, if that.

        • the key word in your question is “SHE” the offender laws, sentences, and punishments are so different for women offenders

      • I toqtally agree with you.,a murderer does his time and gets out and lives where he pleases.,A young man is dating a girl her parents put him in jail. Life ruined then further ruined by the sex registry..A 20 year old gets drunk goes to bus station exposes himself. Arrested does time in prison, twenty years later still on registry..A grown womandating a 19 year old he moves on he accuses him of touching TOUCHING her daughter. Retracted statement state took it up and gave him 10 years 10 yearsclaterche is still on sex registry. My grand daughters mother was killed brutally and buried in back yard of his home and released in 14 years. He is out no registry required. Could even bevyourcneighbor. Which one would you rather live next door too? I’m not saying this is true for all offenders but there should guide lines. All are notvguiltybon that regustry..

    • I do not know what planet you are from but when someone breaks the law they need to be punished. Regarding a Sex Offender they may or may not have a mental impairment but laws are written as such to protect the innocent. As the World continues to turn we are being overloaded with more Crime yet people like you want to endorse it. So your daughter lives next to a Sex Offender and you would be ok with that?

      • The problem is some of these laws should not be laws. Me, i dont know if I would want my daughter to live next to a sex offender, it depends on the crime not the label

    • It may be a LIVING DEATH but you are crazy as hell to think that ANY sex offender deserves to live. Speaking as a victim of a sex offender, they should be recognized by people of the community for what they’ve done. As far as your “Christian” debate you think you’re right about, you should actually read the Bible, the whole thing and not a small paraphrase from whatever “Bible” you read. Listen to me, EVERY SEX OFFENDER SHOULD BE GIVEN THE DEATH PENALTY HOWEVER THE VICTIM MAY CHOOSE!!! You sir, are a [removed by editor].

  3. What rights do communities have if you find out their is an offender living right next door and their crime was against a minor and that there are over 5 or more minors within that range and a public bus stop. What action if any can be taken and the offense is only 6- 8 months old

    • I would like to know too. And what about the kids dentist office my girls just had to sit right next to child molester while waiting an hour to get an xray done for my two girls. I was sure at first if that was him so when i got home i checked my email and sure enough it is him an he lives at the end of my dirt road. Which he nows my address because i had to yell through a glass window to tell the lady what i had already written down on paper. I called them and they said that they dont check registry for sex offender i told her twell then they need to stop taking kids as patients simple as that. Im so freaked out that girls 8 and 5 were sitting right next to a sex offender.

      • People sit next to murderers, rapist , thieves , you name it, if we go around the earth living our lives in fear of what any other person is capable of doing you might as well be scared the whole entire world because anybody and everybody is capable of something evil people need to just get over it live your lives and hope it don’t happen to you all that preparing for something that isn’t even there is a crock

        • I have a son in a similar situation. My question is why don’t they have a registry for drug pushers, murderers, and theives? If a person has served their time no matter the crime, why are they still being punished?2

          • I feel the term “sex offender” is so broad… there is no distinction to a lewd and lascivious (example: public urination) and more severe crimes like sexual battery. the person who peed out side at a park and got caught is treated the same as a person who raped 5 people. there needs to be some distinction.

        • I know all the people on the registry are not innocent but some are.. But like the murderers and robbers and other maniacs out there sex offenders have done their time. A lot is young people dating young people..I’m not saying its right that young people have sex but it happens and the boy goes to prison and never has a chance at life. 18 is still a boy also and doesn’t deserve to be on a registry for years.,besides being dangerous there are crazies out there who kill people on that registry and guess what murderers aren’t on any registries.

      • Being a sex offender doesn’t mean child molester, not sure why you freaked if you don’t know his story

      • First off, I would like to say that just because your daughters was sitting next to a sex offender, who never tried anything while sitting next to your girl–why did you feel the need to call the dentist office and put his business out there. I am pretty sure you have done something in your life that you’re not too pleased with and would like for the public to be accepting and understanding. Point blank period you will never make it into heaven unless you forgive. You can’t say you can forgive when you made a big issue and even went to the point of calling the dentist. In all actuality if that was one of my loved ones OH TRUST ME YOU WILL HAVE TO COME SEE ME, cause that shit ain’t cool. [Edited.] Just like you have two daughter and they have a father suppose the tables were turned and an unfortunate event happened to where he was in the same exact situation, how would you feel especially being the fact that he can’t be around your daughters but because of the father in him he decided to take his kids to an appointment because you couldn’t make it and what if somebody reported him and got him in trouble how would you feel, or yet what will be your rebuttal? Do you feel like people should have minded their own business since he wasn’t bothering anyone,but just taking his kids to an appointment. I have learned throughout my years in life what judgement you oppose on someone else to the same degree and measure will someone judge you. You may say you will never do this or that but think about your loved ones who may have to go through it and if they do ask yourself how would you feel if somebody did what you did to your loved one. You also say that he lives down the road and you ain’t encounter a problem why feel the need to report WHY? Just because someone is on the sex registry doesn’t mean they all committed an act against a child, there are many of reasons and WHO [edited] ARE YOU to really be passing judgement. I just can’t get over you doing that because where I’m from you wouldn’t gotten too far because people don’t play when it comes down to minding somebody else’s business. And you can feel free to reach out if you like because I have a few choice words for you. I don’t know you and don’t want to, but open your eyes and pray for yourself because you sound like a [edited] woman seeking attention.

    • Why would you care the person is labeled an offender, isn’t it more important to see what crime was comitted?

  4. How is it that a man convicted of incest 21 yrs ago doesn’t have to register as a sex offender ?

    • Why should he?

  5. Murderers, rapists, armed robbers, liars and thieves don’t have to register. You could be living next door to a convicted bank robber, or someone who served time for killing someone…and you wouldn’t even know!!! The percentage of convicted sex offenders that repeat their offense is a mere 5%. My good friend got caught peeing in an alley and has to register for the rest of his life! My co-worker’s 18 year old son was arrested and served time for being with a 16 year old girl…..that he had been dating for almost 2 years. The laws are different in each state and need to be reformed. Each case is different and needs to be looked at for what really happened. Granted, there are a lot of sick people out there, but to punish someone twice by taking away simple liberties, after they have already been to prison, is wrong and unjust. Drug addicts and alcoholics are given second chances over and over again, and wind up dead, in jail, or worse…hurting someone else. We, as a nation, need to open our eyes, ears, minds and hearts. Not all people who commit crimes are lifetime offenders. Keep a man down…he will stay down. Help someone out and that person may rise to a new level and surprise us all.

    • Your comments are spot on Americans have a warped view on sex and have enacted laws that over react to the actual level of crime occurring

    • “My co-worker’s 18 year old son was arrested and served time for being with a 16 year old girl…..that he had been dating for almost 2 years.”

      That is what happened to my son. They had been dating for two year and it was his 18th birthday. His “birthday present” from her. She turned 17 a month later. Her father found out and pressed charges but she refused to testify against him. I don’t know what her father promised her but she gave in and testified five months later, claiming he had raped her and that she barely knew him!! He is 32 now and has been in prison since his 18th birthday. He finally gets out this year but has to register as a sex offender. He will be labeled, punished, and ostracized for the rest of his life for accepting “his birthday present” from his girlfriend. The chances of him finding a job are pretty low. Everyone gets a second chance at life after paying their debt except those who convicted of a sex offense. There is just something fundamentally wrong with this picture. Instead of just making them register as a pervert, why don’t we tattoo it across their forehead?!!!!

      • Please! If the Scarlett Letter is too hard to wear then don’t commit the crime (whatever your thoughts on the subject). Society has limits and should be respected PERIOD! Sorry about your tribulations, however why don’t you speak about criminal records in general? Do they not hang around a person’s neck as sure as the Dreaded afformentioned Scarlett Letter? Keep it in your pants then there wouldn’t be an issue!

        • Quick to judge, and what of the innocent that are falsely accused?? Yes there are ones who are truly innocent. Who have had their live destroyed because of spite full individuals.. Yes he served his time and paid dearly for something he never did and now wherever we live he is branded..

        • Change the laws, that guy did shouldn’t be illegal

    • i agree cyndi the true brutal rapist they should throw away the key but there are so many in there for simple things. ..Even things done in jest..Just simple mistakes and they have to pay for these mistakes after they have been punished in prison..isn’t prison enough?

  6. Point of law. A man who was convicted of a non violent misdemeanor in Virginia. (he his not required to register there their list is for violent offenders only). While residing in Virginia between 2004 and 2006 he completes two years of sex offender psychological therapy one a week for 1.75 hrs per week UNDER SUPERVISED probation. He moves to NC in 2006 buying a home but does not get a NC drivers license till May 2007. The County Sheriffs contacts Raleigh who says he MUST register. 10 years after the conviction thinking his two years of supervised probation counts toward the minimum 10 year registry requirement he petitions for relief. It is denied. He is told by the local DA he MUST remain on the list till may 2017. SO supervised probation and while under therapy count for NOTHING???

    • if convicted of a violent sex crime I am all about the sex registry ..But the non violent crimes if the person has done prison tine for their MISTAKE let them get out and try to have a life without having to relive the pain each time he sits at the sheriff dept for his so called check ins.

  7. Offender registration is the easiest part; I have been a registered offender for 16 years and do not have a child offense conviction. My conviction is 30 years old. The only benefit that is proven is that the scarlet letter muse used by politicians was also used in the 16th century to gain in their popularity, too, screaming witch witch! And it has worked here. But it is okay that the Sheriff know where you are…I certainly have no problem with it. My conviction is now 31 years old and was with a woman my age (a year older than me). However, I agree with the above comment that there is little if any evidence that populating the internet with technical info on an offender is of any public protection or of value to the state. It mainly allows people to have something to talk about, scrutinize, or sneer at. Generally, the state is not required to explain any of the statutes listed for conviction or circumstances surrounding it. So, people naturally assume the worst for such vague statements and the general citizen needs to protect their own, so its no wonder the law exists. Since, most are not lawyers, this make us all look like child offenders! Thanks alot! Can’t get any job, no one wants the risk of recognition of a publicly advertised offender. Personally, I think we all would be better off if everyone’s record was publicly available so that we could steer around that drunk driver next time just because he MIGHT be drunk. Might save alot of lives!

    • Thanks for your letter i too am an offender NO WITH A MINOR and live in Ga. This is a was 15 yrs ago my wife and i are thinking of moving to N.C. upon my retirement in 2 yrs, we are looking to live a VERY quiet life away from any populated areas and will have no problem complying with the 1000 ft laws. Have you had any other problems or anything you can tell me that i might need to know? Do they stop you from social media, or do they have the right to examine computers or search without warrants?
      Thanks

  8. I too agree with most of the comments on this site My son was also convicted and served time but was not diagnosed as a pedophile. He had sex with a willing 14 year old who the court decided was not able to make a decision as an adult however if that same 14 year old killed someone, the courts would be all over the fact the she should be tried as an adult. We can not have it both ways either they are minors or adults not at the convenience of the state. If this is a first offense and not a forced or violent offense, then registry should be required while on reasonable probation and upon successful completion of probation be removed from the registry. If medically diagnosed as a pedophile then of course that person should be on the list. As a state we need to revise the laws and make them fair and applicable to the severity of the crime and not just generally applied across the board.

    • Good points bill!

  9. I signed a petition on http://www.change.org to abolish the sex offender registry. Let your voices be heard. Stand United!

  10. I know of an individual who is not able to live with his sister and is homeless. The reason is her house is within 1,000 feet of the property line of a church on whose property the day care center is located. The actual day care facility is more than 1,000 feet from her house. Is there a standard legal measurement used to determine the distance? Is it structure to structure or property line to property line? The difference of a tens of feet means the individual sleeps on a bench instead of in a secure house. Ironically, when the day care is in use during the daytime, there are no restrictions on distance.

  11. I have a coworker that is a registered sex offender, I’m just wondering if their are any laws about working near a school. Kids come in on a daily basis & im just worried about them.

    • You might wanna worry about the person who isn’t registered who is a pedophile but hasn’t actually been caught yet.

      Just because someone is a registered SO doesn’t make them a monster… ANYONE can end up on the registry…. worry about children period regardless of who is there!

    • Each state has different laws you should call and ask your local police, if he is just an offender I wouldn’t worry, but if he was a predator then worry

  12. s14-208.9 and s14-208.16
    14-208.16 states that I have established a “residence” when I enter into a contract for the purchase of a house.
    s14-208.9 States that I have to inform the Sheriffs respectively of the two counties involved that I have changed address.
    I have not changed address, and CANNOT change address until I take possession of the property. Does anybody really understand any of this minutiae. The residency restrictions should be included with the change of address statute. This part of the law is a hindrance to commerce. The emperor’s new clothes are so beautiful.

  13. I was not found qulity of a sex crim but yet im on the registy and put on 3 years probation how is this fair

    • I don’t understand how you are on the registry if you were found not guilty, appeal it

  14. What I experience with living by a school is that people want to accuse each other of bring sex offenders and that if you’re young and single you’re going to run into a ton of issues…I’ve been chased and had sports equipment thrown at me while jogging at the soccer field by kid/coaches accusing me of being a child molester for jogging too closely to a training course for young soccer players…its the locale…go to the beach..you’re naked it’s all good…but around a school it’s not okay to jog…it’s something that people create…I’ve recieved fake letters that my computer activity was being monitored or caused federal alerts…it’s not true…you have every sexual right in your home and yard…I think it’s crazy…people are so manipulative about sex and casting this blind over it and it’s so fake…and they do this stuff to offenders and it’s stupid…laws are seriously so just to make cases for civil rights…there’s no law…there’s no normal..nothing..it’s just for the world record of psychology and psychiatry…that’s all it’s all for…I’ve lived across from a school for most of my life and my family has for over sixty years and there’s just things they do to young people to manipulate info…I’ve had sex on the beach in the park been caught by the cops but people on school grounds make things out to be this big evil to get onto thier property…they are rediculous…honestly it’s a industry manipulation to change academic dynamics and security and technology programming…don’t be fooled….war on drugs…the anger for peace movements…hate for equality…it’s all that stuff…enjoy life find a soft spot wear sunscreen and big spray and get your butt in the air…sorry we can’t afford our fourty acres and a mule and big fence to screw our happy wives on and I’m pro happy wives but just because everyone doesn’t have a place to be big rich sexy success America doesn’t mean they are bad dirty molesting perverts….get over your self and your puny jobs and weak morals…be normal and realize kids have bigger problems and frustrations than some guy or chick in a house…and by the way more teachers have sex with students than molesters get caught….in school after school thier houses cheat on spouses have threesomes…rarely caught and divorce is more harmful than most issues in society….people get obsessed with being cops because they can’t cope with the level of intensity of thier fitness thier fight thier tactical applications…when you can and you see them you see the problem is the weak little people want that power or to opt out because they are useless and the cops want competition out of the way and criminals want citizens to not have legal power of and over the law…you can’t stop legalization of alcohol tobacco and cannibis and cocaine and heroin and crack…you can’t catch murderers you can’t tell on child abusers but you can play against people you already caught…come on grow up and admit how weak you are. Just pathetic…they aught to put them in the witness protection program give them huge bank accounts and exotic foreign wives and see if they ever break the law again…I bet you not one does anything but get a d.u.i. or a d.w.i….ever….you are your own problem but you definitly don’t take responsibility for that obviously.

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