The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department will have its hands full this Halloween when they attempt to enforce a county ordinance that prohibits registered sex offenders from participating in the holiday. The ordinance was reportedly adopted on Sept. 10 and disallows offenders from putting up decorations, passing out candy to trick-or-treaters or having outside lights on after dark on Halloween night. Persons found to be in violation face up to $1,000 in fines and/or six month’s jail time.
Five of the county’s 119 registered sex offenders have hired an attorney in order to have the ordinance challenged in court saying it infringes on their First Amendment rights. At least three of those involved in the suit are married and two of them have minor children.
Proponents of the law say cities throughout the county have similar ordinances which have been specifically designed to protect children from predators. The the number one priority needs to be keeping kids safe, they said, noting a belief that Ventura’s law doesn’t go far enough.
The Plaintiffs disagree, saying they have already paid their debt to society.
The county said they feel the lawsuit is without merit and said they will steadfastly defend the validity of the ordinance in court.