Social Media, Texting, and Sex Crimes in New Jersey

In today’s highly connected society, there are so many blurred lines when it comes to Internet communications and texting. The laws are slowly catching up. On November 26, 2013, a New Jersey Appellate Court upheld limited Internet access for convicted sex offenders who are on parole, prohibiting them from accessing online social networks. These included Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Legislature has been proposed in New Jersey (Senate bill 2142) that would require any registered sex offenders to self identify on their online profiles. New Jersey sex crime attorneys modeled this bill after a 2012 law that requires all registered sex offenders to list in their social network profiles the crimes they committed, their physical appearance, their residences, and links to their official sex offender registry listing. They would also have to provide lists of their email addresses, screen names, and other social identities. Not complying with these requirements would lead to 18 months in jail and fines up to $10,000.

The battle over social media and is not an easy one. There is the question of free speech and the First Amendment. Legislature like this has already been struck down in other states. In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled a similar law unconstitutional in Indiana Doe v. Prosecutor, Marion County Indiana, 2013 WL 238735 (Jan 23, 2013). The court found that it violated the offender’s First Amendment speech rights because it interfered with his “right to receive information and ideas.” In addition to speak freely, the First Amendment also provides for the right to hear or read freely.

We have yet to see if the bill will pass in New Jersey. The area of legislature as it relates to social media and sexual offenses is an ever-evolving one. If you were wrongly accused of violating sex crimes laws in New Jersey, get a hard-hitting attorney on your side to defend your legal rights.

To understand more about these developing laws, contact a knowledgeable New Jersey sex crime attorney at Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC at (908) 561-5577 or contact us online.