Can Sex Offenders Use Social Media?

man in dark on computer with hood up

Registered sex offenders are required by law to follow specific rules about registration, where they can live, jobs they can have, and more. What rules are in place for social media usage?

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Social Media and First Amendment Rights

In recent years, North Carolina passed a law that states that individuals convicted of any felony sex crimes could not use social media sites. The purpose of this ban was to protect others online, specifically children, from coming in contact with registered sex offenders.

However, this was taken all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was deemed unconstitutional. The Court stated that barring all sex offenders from using social media was a violation of their right to free speech.

Because of this, no states have the right to ban sex offenders from using the internet. However, there are other restrictions in place.

Disclosure of Online Names

In California, sex offenders are required to disclose online screen names and profiles.
This could be:

  • Email addresses
  • Facebook profiles
  • Instagram usernames

This requirement does not apply to all sex offenders. Only people who were convicted of a felony on or after January 1, 2017, are required to disclose this information.

Also, only people convicted of certain sex offenses must provide their online names.
This applies to:

  • Anyone who used the internet to collect information about their victim
  • Anyone who was convicted of internet sex trafficking
  • Anyone convicted of online child pornography charges (producing, distributing, downloading, etc.)

Therefore, anyone convicted of a sex offense that did not involve the internet is not required to disclose their online names and profiles.

What Does the State Do with This Information?

Once sex offenders have provided their online names to the State, the State can only use that information when investigating other crimes. For example, if there is an investigation going on for child pornography, the State may look up the online profiles of people previously convicted on child pornography charges.

Rancho Cucamonga Sex Crime Defense Lawyers

Cyber sex crimes are incredibly serious and can affect the rest of your life. You will need an experienced legal team to help you craft a strong defense. If you are facing criminal charges, contact Newman & Allen today.