St. Johns County no longer requiring ‘no candy’ signs in sexual offenders’ front lawns for Halloween

The SJC Commission also approved new restrictions for the holiday

ST. JOHNS COUNTY. Fla. – The St. Johns County Commission voted unanimously in favor of removing the “no candy” signage requirement for registered sexual offenders’ lawns and added more restrictions for the Halloween holiday during their regular meeting on Tuesday.

The Board of County Commissioners removed the “no candy” signage requirement included in the St. Johns County Prohibited Holiday Activity Ordinance for Sexual Offenders and Sexual Predators, Ordinance No. 2009-43.

According to the agenda item, the signage requirement was subject to constitutional challenge under the First Amendment.

In 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that signage requirements like the one in the County’s previous ordinance violated the First Amendment. The county had to revise the ordinance to comply with Federal law.

“So, if they’re doing away with the no candy signs, nobody has an idea that maybe a possible sex offender lives here,” said Rita Erickson, who is a grandparent.

Some parents are concerned about the changes but others are not as worried about the removal of the signs.

“That sign obviously makes it super clear. But I think traditionally if someone’s lights are off and their house is dark you don’t approach,” Wendy Knox said, a St. Johns County parent. “We would just treat it like any other house that’s dark.” 

The ordinance is now updated to specifically state that sex offenders cannot decorate their homes or dress up in costumes that would “attract, entice or lure children.”

Registered sexual offenders and predators are also banned from attending any holiday events geared toward families and children.

Furthermore, sex offenders can’t have visible Halloween decorations from 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Halloween. And all residential lighting must be turned off after 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 or any other day Halloween is celebrated.

Offenders also can’t display:

  • Inflatables
  • Holograms or projections
  • Children’s characters or other interactive displays
  • Decorations that line a pathway to a door

“If the lights are off, it obviously means people aren’t passing out candy and we won’t go there, but I would rather see a no candy sign and know the reason why that sign is there,” Erickson said.

In 2022, Duval County also removed the “no candy” signs requirement after two registered sexual offenders filed a lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville saying the requirement was unconstitutional.

MORE: County-by-county breakdown of Halloween rules for convicted sexual offenders and predators

St. Johns County Commissioners also voted in favor of changes to the child safety zone during the Tuesday meeting, extending the designated distance sex offenders must maintain from places children frequent from 300 feet to 1,000 feet.

About the Author:

Tiffany comes home to Jacksonville, FL from WBND in South Bend, Indiana. She went to Mandarin High School and UNF. Tiffany is a former WJXT intern, and is joining the team in 2023 as Consumer Investigative Reporter and member of the I-TEAM.