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Can sex offenders use social media?

If you have been charged and are found guilty of committing a sexual offense, you may be banned from using certain social media sites as a result of your conviction. In New Jersey, and in other states across the country, convicted sex offenders listed on the sex registry list cannot post on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

According to NJ.com, opponents to this legislation brought the case before a state board of appeals, declaring that social media sites are more than just socializing networks. These sites have evolved to become rehabilitative to sex offenders who are looking for support groups and services. For example, LinkedIn may allow offenders to network with professionals that could help them find employment.  Opponents also brought up the potential impingement to citizens’ freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The appeals court ruled to uphold the social media ban, saying that allowing convicted sex offenders to use these sites presents a risk to the public and to children. The judges voiced that offenders are able to use other websites to search for rehabilitation services and employment opportunities, and so they still have freedom of speech. In some cases, exemptions to the rule may be made depending on the circumstances surrounding the situation. Otherwise, sex offenders who are found posting on banned social media websites may face penalties, including possible fines and jail time.

This information is intended to educate and should not be used as legal advice. 

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