Thursday, August 22, 2013

State Appeals Court Nixes Law Barring Sex Offenders from Social Networking Sites

North Carolina State Legislative Building
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In State of North Carolina v. Lester Gerard Packingham (Case No. 10CRS57148), the North Carolina Court of Appeals this week unanimously declared unconstitutional N.C. Gen. Stat. sec. 14-202.5, which made it a Class I felony for a registered sex offender to access commercial social networking Web sites that permit minors to become members.

Under N.C. Gen. Stat. sec. 14-208.7, persons convicted of sexually violent offenses or offenses against minors after 1996 must register as sex offenders and maintain that registration for a minimum 30 years. The appellate court overturned the social networking ban on First Amendment grounds because it "arbitrarily burdens" registered sex offenders from engaging in modes of communication and expressive activity without actually shielding children from sexual predators.

According to the Jurist Web site, a federal court earlier this year overturned an Indiana statute barring sex offenders from social networking sites, ruling the law did not survive strict scrutiny review mandated in free speech cases.

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