ST. JOHNS, Fla. — During their regular meeting on Tuesday, the St. Johns County Commission unanimously voted to make noteworthy changes to regulations affecting registered sex offenders during holidays, including the removal of “no candy” signage requirements on front lawns, while introducing strict provisions to safeguard children on Halloween.
The revisions were made as part of Ordinance No. 2009-43, which governs holiday activities for sexual offenders and predators within the county.
One notable change is the removal of the requirement for registered sex offenders to display “no candy” signs or similar warnings on their lawns during Halloween. The decision to eliminate this requirement stemmed from concerns that it could potentially face legal challenges under the First Amendment.
However, the updated ordinance now includes stringent provisions aimed at safeguarding children.
On Halloween night, sex offenders must refrain from displaying any visible Halloween decorations from 6:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Also, all residential lighting must be turned off after 5:00 p.m. on October 31st or on any other day when Halloween is celebrated.
The revised rules also specify that registered sex offenders cannot display:
- Holograms or projections
- Displays over six feet in height
- Decorations that line a pathway to a door
- Children’s characters, or other interactive displays
Registered sex offenders are also prohibited from decorating their homes or wearing costumes that could attract, entice, or lure children. Additionally, they are banned from attending any holiday events specifically intended for families and children.
Penalties for violation include either a $500 fine, 60 days in jail, or both.
To read the full ordinance, click here.
This move by St. Johns County Commissioners follows a similar decision made by Duval County in 2022.
Duval County removed the “no candy” sign requirement after two registered sexual offenders filed a lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville, alleging that the requirement was unconstitutional.
BOCC Chair Christian Whitehurst said, “These ordinance amendments improve the safety of our community and particularly the well-being of the children living in and visiting St. Johns County. One of the priorities for the Board of County Commissioners is a resilient future for children. We strengthened that future with these stronger ordinances.”
In a separate decision during the same meeting, St. Johns County Commissioners extended the child safety zone for sex offenders. The designated distance that sex offenders must maintain from places frequently visited by children was expanded from 300 feet to 1,000 feet.
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