Sex Offenders Living with Minors, Part II

Last week I wrote about the restrictions on living with minors applicable to sex offenders who are under supervision by the Department of Correction. I wrote in that post that supervised offenders whose crime involved the physical, mental, or sexual abuse of a minor will likely be subject to a condition of supervision preventing them from residing in the same household as a child. This post considers what restrictions apply when a registered offender’s formal supervision comes to an end.

The short answer is that the sex offender registration law does not expressly restrict with whom a registered offender may live. Several provisions placing restrictions on residency and employment may, however, come close in certain situations. (In discussing these provisions I’ll describe situations in which the registrant is male, but the laws apply equally to women.)

As for the residency restrictions, under G.S. 14-208.16, a registrant may not knowingly reside within 1,000 feet of the property on which any school or child care center is located. I have been asked if that provision might bar a registrant from living in a home with a home-schooled child or prevent an offender from residing with and caring for, for example, his girlfriend’s children. I don’t think it does. First, the law expressly excludes home schools (as defined in G.S. 115C-563) from its definition. Second, the law defines a “child care center” as an arrangement where three or more preschool-age children or nine or more school age children receive child care, but it excludes arrangements involving only children who reside where the care is provided. G.S. 110-86.

As for employment restrictions, I have been asked if the prohibitions on babysitting or participating in child-involved activities might prevent an offender from living with and looking after the children who reside there—be they his own or, in the example I mentioned before, his girlfriend’s. Again, in most circumstances I don’t think they would. Under G.S. 14-321.1, no adult may provide or offer to provide a “babysitting service” in a home where a registered offender resides. Babysitting is defined in that section as “providing, for profit, supervision or care for a child under the age of 13 years who is unrelated to the provider by blood, marriage, or adoption, for more than two hours per day while the child’s parents or guardian are not on the premises.” Most domestic arrangements would, I think, fall outside this definition of a for-profit babysitting service.

G.S. 14-208.17 raises a similar concern. Under subsection (a) of that law it is a Class F felony for a registrant to “work”—with or without compensation—at “any place where a minor is present and the person’s responsibilities or activities would include instruction, supervision, or care of a minor or minors.” In the typical home situation I don’t think a registrant looking after the children with whom he resides would qualify as “work” within the language of that statute—and I say that as a father of three boys who knows taking care of them isn’t always easy. It seems to me that the existence of the more specific rule against “babysitting” suggests that 14-208.17(a) was meant to cover jobs or volunteer work outside the home. Subsection (b) makes it unlawful for a person to accept a minor into his or her care knowing that someone who resides at the home is required to register.  But that portion of the law only includes situations where the minor is accepted “from another.” As such, I don’t think it would cover the minors who already reside in the home. There are no cases interpreting either subsection.