The Louisiana District Court has just struck down a law banning registered sex offenders from accessing facebook and other social-networking sites. In John Doe v. Bobby Jindahl the Louisiana District Court threw out the newly enacted state law as unreasonable and unconstitutional. The court pointed to the statute’s use of the definition “chat room” as too broad – noting that it could be used to include the “court’s own federal website.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two registered sex offenders challenging a Louisiana law against the “unlawful use or access of social media.” Pursuant to this law, registered sex offenders who were previously convicted of crimes involving minors or juveniles are prohibited from “using or accessing of social networking websites, chat rooms, and peer-to-peer networks.” If you are under investigation for or have been charged with any sex crime, consulting with a knowledgeable Michigan criminal defense lawyer is important to protect your rights and determine your next steps.
In the decision Chief Judge Brian Jackson wrote, “Although the Act is intended to promote the legitimate and compelling state interest of protecting minors from internet predators, the near total ban on internet access imposed by the Act unreasonable restricts many ordinary activities that have become important to everyday life in today’s world…The sweeping restrictions on the use of internet for purposes completely unrelated to the activities sought to be banned by the Act imposed severe and unwarranted restraints on constitutionally protected speech. More focused restrictions that are narrowly tailored to address the specific conduct sought to be proscribed should be pursued.”
Currently, Michigan does not have a law prohibiting sex offenders from social networking sites. However, in 2009 legislation – House Bill No. 5282 – was introduced seeking to criminalize the use of social network by those convicted of a sex crime against a child. Under this law it would be it a five-year felony for a person convicted of a crime against a minor, or a person the convicted offender thought was a minor, to become involved in or use social networking sites that allow minors to have accounts or access.
Despite the absence of a current social networking ban, many times those convicted of Michigan sex crimes lack the freedom to access these sites. Facebook’s terms of service specifically prohibit a registered sex offender from being a member of the Facebook community. Additionally, restrictions on Internet access may be a condition of probation.
For more information or if you have been charged with any Michigan sex crime it is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer in Michigan immediately to protect your rights and secure your freedom. For more information please contact the aggressive criminal defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates for an immediate, free consultation.