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Sex Offender Prohibition Against Use of Social Media Violates First Amendment

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The United Supreme Court held that North Carolina statute prohibiting sex offenders from accessing social networking websites violated First Amendment 

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Sex Crimes Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

In Packingham v. N.C., ___ S.Ct. ____ ,2017 WL 2621313, (June 19, 2017), the United States Supreme Court struck down a provision of a North Carolina statute that made it a felony for a registered sex offender "to access a commercial social networking Web site where the sex offender knows that the site permits minor children to become members or to create or maintain personal Web pages." 

The North Carolina law was narrowly tailored to prohibit sex offenders from logging onto social media sites in order to prevent those offenders from having potential access to children.  However, the Court determined that such a limitation also prohibited a convicted criminal from gaining access to information on any subject that may come to mind, which would include knowing events, reading ads for employment, and "otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge."

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