The Supreme Court is considering a case involving a North Carolina ban on sex offenders using social media. It is common for states to impose strict rules on sex offenders, to prevent them from coming into contact with minors. Most of these bans are focused on geographic restrictions however most, if not all states, also restrict Internet use. The Internet is seen as a fertile ground for pedophiles to find potential victims therefore the states limit or prohibit its use by sex offenders.
A convicted sex offender in North Carolina challenged that ban. The petitioner, a convicted sex offender who served two years of supervised probation, was arrested after posting on a Facebook account that he got a parking ticket dismissed. North Carolina officials rearrested him for violating his parole. He challenged the arrest on Free Speech grounds.
The Court noted the state’s concern that pedophiles use social media to find children victims but they also expressed concern that the ban was so comprehensive. Most states take more targeted approaches in their prohibitions but a win for the petitioner could have far reaching ramifications throughout the country.
Based on the questions asked by the Justices, they were skeptical that North Carolina’s ban couldn’t be more judiciously applied to allow some social media use. The Court noted that the President and all major news networks use social media to disseminate the news. Several Justices pointed out that social media is a critical method through which many people receive their news.
The ruling is not expected for several months but this case could substantially change how sex offenders are permitted to use the Internet. As this case illustrates, a sex crime conviction fundamentally affects the rest of your life. If you are facing these charges, you may want a lawyer to assist you. The courts and prosecutors are prejudicial against people charged with these crimes, so you may want the help of an attorney to keep you off the sex offender registry. Once you are on the registry, it is very difficult to get your name removed.