Bill Would Require Sex Offender Status Be Clear on Social Media

It is no secret that those convicted of certain sex offenses face a long and difficult road returning to normal life. Most jurisdictions have strict rules requiring sex offenders to register with the authorities and, in many cases, a conviction can make it difficult to even find a place to live. In recent years, some jurisdictions have begun considering whether to further restrict the rights of convicted sex offenders by requiring them to identify themselves on social media. Earlier this year, this type of legislation was introduced in New Jersey.

In late November of this year, a New Jersey court upheld a decision allowing law enforcement to prevent convicted sex offenders from using social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Despite this ruling, many convicted sex offenders continue to use social media networks without supervision.

Christopher Bateman, a Republican state senator from Somerville, has introduced legislation that would require sex offenders to provide information about their criminal status on social media sites. The proposed law, which is modeled on legislation in Louisiana, would require offenders to provide information about the nature of their crimes, where they occurred, information about their appearance and their address. In addition, offenders would also be required to include a link on their social media profiles to their official entry in the state sex offender registry.

The concern is that social media sites have become increasingly popular among children. In support of the proposed law, Bateman cites a 2009 study from the University of New Hampshire, which found that arrests for online solicitation of minors increased approximately 21 percent from 2000 to 2006. Of course, the use of social media sites among users of all ages increased during the same period.

It remains to be seen whether the proposed bill is good policy or whether it would be effective in preventing recidivism among convicted sex offenders. The reality, however, is that lawmakers across the country, including those in New Jersey, have shown a willingness to pass harsh laws restricting the rights of those who have been convicted of sex offenses.

If you are being investigated for a sex crime, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers know that these sorts of charges are serious and that a conviction or plea deal can severely impact the way you live your life. For more information, do not delay: contact a criminal defense attorney and learn more about how to protect your rights.