A North Carolina law that banned sex offenders from accessing social media websites that could be used by children has been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. According to The Verge, the law made it a felony for sex offenders to use Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites.
Lester Packingham of Durham challenged the law after he was arrested for publishing a post on Facebook that said, “Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks Jesus!” In 2002, Packingham pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties with a minor.
In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that the law violated the First Amendment. According to ABA Journal, Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor joined Kennedy’s opinion.
Although the ruling sets a precedent that sex offenders cannot be banned from social media websites, a conviction for a sex crime still has far-reaching effects on a person’s relationships, career, and freedoms. If you are facing charges for a sex offense, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately to start planning your defense.
Eric M. Mark is a criminal defense attorney in Elizabeth who will evaluate your case, gather evidence, and compassionately represent your interests. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Eric M. Mark.
Justice Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. Did Not Join the Majority Opinion
Justice Alito Jr. agreed with the judgment because the law’s “extraordinary breadth” violated free speech; however, he did not join the majority opinion because he believed it could prevent states from restricting exceedingly dangerous sex offenders from using any websites. For example, states could not ban sexual predators from teen dating websites. Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined his opinion.
Justice Kennedy Highlighted the Importance of Social Network Sites as the “Modern Public Square”
Justice Kennedy expressed that the law banned sex offenders from accessing news websites and from listening and speaking in the “modern public square,” thus blocking their access to vast realms of human knowledge.
Kennedy did, however, say that his opinion was not intended to prevent states from enacting laws that ban sexual predators from using websites to gather sensitive information about minors or that banned sex offenders from contacting minors.
In the state of New Jersey, a conviction for certain sex crimes comes with a myriad of far-reaching consequences including decades in prison, mandatory registration as a sex offender, and other penalties. If you are facing charges for a sex offense, contact the Law Office of Eric M. Mark to discuss defense strategies that apply to your case.
As a former Assistant Prosecutor, Eric M. Mark has a unique skillset that makes him particularly effective as a criminal lawyer in Elizabeth. As one of his clients, you will have access to his cellphone number in case you have questions or concerns related to your case. Call 973-453-2009 today to schedule a consultation.