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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween 2015 Do’s and Don’ts for Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders


Update:

As of October 31, 2015 3:15PM no VA-DOC Press Release has been posted about the Halloween program. I’m not sure what this means. Did they send it to all the news outlets and just forget to post it on their website OR did they actually NOT do a press release for 2015?
 
I’m hoping for the latter. 

Mary 

 
Original Post: 
 
Saturday is Halloween! 

So far, I’ve been contacted by one Virginia Television station and one Virginia newspaper about Halloween and “Sex Offenders” this week. 

I have already posted a few times before today about the upcoming holiday for RSO’s:
I expect the VA-DOC’s Halloween press release will come out today but it could be tomorrow. 

So what can and can't you do on Halloween as a Registered Sex Offender (RSO) in Virginia? 

In Virginia there is no law prohibiting RSO’s from participating in Halloween activities.
RSO’s  can:
  1. Have their front door light on
  2. Decorate their home/yard
  3. Wear a costume
  4. Accompany their own children or grand-children trick-or-treating
  5. Answer their door and hand out candy
  6. Attend a Halloween party
BUT, if the RSO is under Virginia’s Department of Correction Probation Supervision then there MAY be restrictions specific to THAT RSO that they MUST follow or face a probation violation (a felony).

 

Each VA-DOC Probation District handles Halloween differently and they are obligated to advise the RSO ahead of time of their restrictions or requirements which could include no decorations outside your home, your porch-light off from 5pm to 5am, a sign posted on your front door stating no-candy-here, a lock-down inside your home from 5pm to 5am (you can not leave your home or answer your door) or a mandate (during trick-or-treating hours) to attend a Probation or Counseling meeting where you may be required to submit to alcohol and/or drug testing. 

Your VA-DOC Probation Officer could also stop by your home to confirm you have followed the rules your District advised you of before October 31st. 

For all other RSO’s in Virginia……. keep in mind in previous years the Virginia State Police has partnered with the U.S. Marshal’s to do one of the two annual residential compliance checks. They’ve done these on the day before Halloween, the day of and the day after.  

So your VSP Compliance Officer or Trooper could show up with an entourage in flak-jackets and with guns on their hips………to intentionally make a scene in front of your entire neighborhood, under the guise of “public safety”.  

I’ve heard from numerous parents, spouses and offenders over the years and when these U. S. Marshal lead compliance checks are done on the actual holiday it creates a terrible atmosphere for the kids, the holiday spirit is squashed and can NOT be revived.  

As an RSO, if you are NOT under VA-DOC Probation and you are NOT “Wanted”, then you are NOT legally required to let the VSP Compliance Officer/Trooper OR U.S. Marshal’s enter your residence. Also if you were convicted in Virginia you are under NO obligation to answer any questions by U.S. Marshal’s.  

The Federal authorities ONLY have authority over those who were convicted under Federal law, in Military Courts, those who are “Wanted” and those who have moved outside the state where they were originally convicted. Virginia is NOT a Federally certified (SMART Office) compliant Adam Walsh Act/SORNA state so if they claim we are (as I have heard has been done in the past) that is untrue and even if we were you are ONLY obligated to register and comply with the Virginia authorities. 

Finally, if the U.S. Marshal’s OR your VSP Compliance Officer/Trooper asks you to sign a U.S. Marshal Form and you were convicted under Virginia law I strongly suggest you DO NOT SIGN!!!!!!!!!!!! Ask for a copy or take a photo of the form and have an attorney look at it first! If you DO sign a U.S. Marshal form you may find that you’ve agreed to be Federally managed and that is NOT required as a Virginian who was convicted and required to register by the Commonwealth. 

In the end I suggest you do your best to make an uncomfortable Halloween situation as pleasant as possible for everyone including your family members, room-mates and neighbors but you do have rights and only you can protect those rights by knowing the law and what’s required of you as an RSO. Sadly some in authority will mislead those who live in fear of a failure-to-register or a revocation of probation and knowledge is power. 

Happy Halloween readers! Stay compliant, stay safe and have fun! 

Mary Davye Devoy