A portion of the city of Orange's ordinance that registered sex offenders put up signs saying there are "no candy or treats at this residence" is coming under fire. An attorney says the signs could make registrants a target for violence. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2013.
An Orange County city will consider a provision in an ordinance that requires sex offenders to post signs outside their homes that indicate they do not have candy for Halloween trick-or-treaters.
The Orange City Council will meet Tuesday night to discuss the ordinance, which also bans sex offenders from displaying Halloween decorations, opening their doors to children and leaving lights on Halloween night.
Part of the ordinance requiring sex offenders to post signs on their front doors that read, "No candy or treats at this residence," is the subject of a lawsuit filed Wednesday by California Reform Sex Offender Laws (CA RSOL). The lawsuit names the city of Orange, claiming the signs make sex offenders -- and anyone else at the residence -- marked targets.
"I don't know one instance where a child was sexually assaulted on Halloween," said attorney Chance Oberstein. "But I do know of a gentleman who is a registrant who was actually murdered by one who found out he was."
Oberstein was referring to the San Juan Capistrano case of Robert Vasquez, convicted of first-degree murder earlier this year in the 2011 slaying of a neighbor. Prosecutors described the death as a vigilante killing. The victim registered as sex offender in 1985 in a case that did not involve a child.
The signs required by Orange's ordinance must be 12-by-24 inches and displayed on Halloween night. A violation can result in a $1,000 fine or six months in jail. No sex offenders have been cited since the ordinance's adoption, Orange City Attorney Wayne Winthers told the Los Angeles Times.
A similar sign provision in Simi Valley's sex offender ordinance was recently placed on hold by a U.S. District Court judge. Orange is the only California city with the sign requirement, according to CA RSOL.
The city has the option of amending the ordinance at Tuesday's meeting to remove the sign requirement.
Several residents told NBC4 parents already have methods, such as online registries, to find out whether sex offenders live nearby.,
"I don't like that policy, exactly," said resident Chelsea Emerson. "There are web sites I've actually been on and looked around the neighborhood. If parents are concerned about that, they can research it beforehand."
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