Raleigh Criminal Attorney Speaks Out Against Restricting Sex Offenders at Public Events Like the NC State Fair
At last October’s North Carolina State Fair two registered sex offenders were apprehended, one for impersonating a state ride inspector and the other for flying a drone around the fair.
The presence of registered sex offenders in the N.C. State Fair worried some officials at the state’s Agricultural Department. Joy Hicks, a policy analyst from the Agricultural Department, called on North Carolina lawmakers to pass legislation that bans registered sex offenders from the fair altogether.
What the Law States
Currently, the state law bans the presence of registered sex offenders from any place “where minors gather for regularly scheduled educational, recreational, or social programs.” This obviously does not specify whether or not the State Fair is included in such places. “We would love it to be codified in law that the State Fair is a children’s area and that it is not a place for registered sex offenders,” Hicks was quoted in The News & Observer.
This issue was raised at an agriculture study committee led by state legislators, but could be raised at the legislature’s short session in late April.
Stigmatized More Than Other Offenses
Sex offenses are among the most stigmatized type of criminal offenses and always receive more public attention than the typical criminal case involving drugs, assault or DWI. The sad truth is, sex offenders are haunted by their prior convictions and are being judged based on these charges.
While the intentions of these two men visiting the State Fair has yet to be fully established, it seems that the Agricultural Department officials have inferred that every sex offender is simply looking for an opportunity to commit such crimes again.
But the historical evidence does not support such a conclusion. As a criminal lawyer who works closely with defendants charged with sex-related crimes, I think that calls for banning registered sex offenders from the State Fair might be a step in the wrong direction. Most sex offenders are dedicated to turning over a new leaf in their lives, so banning them from such places as the State Fair appears more like vigilante justice.
- Sex offenders should be formally banned from NC State Fair, agriculture official says, The News & Observer, January 14, 2016
- Law to banning sex offenders from NC State Fair sought, DothanEagle.com, January 14, 2016