New Internet crimes law proposed in Louisiana for sex offenders

Convicted sex offenders in Louisiana may have a new reason to consider what Internet sites they are using. A new law being proposed would make use of websites such as Facebook and other social networking sites chargeable as Internet crimes for a person who has been convicted of a sex offense involving a minor or of video voyeurism. The law was proposed on April 4 and is in the early stages of moving through the Louisiana legislature.

Last year, a law that was similar in scope to the proposed legislation was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge. The court ruled that the restrictions were overly broad. The new proposal would allow the listed sex offenders to use websites of news organizations or shopping networks. If the bill becomes law, those convicted could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison on a first offense and up to 20 years for a second conviction.

Proponents of the proposed bill hope that the new, more narrowly tailored language will allow it to pass a constitutional challenge. Those fighting against it, however, note that there may be unacceptable constitutional restrictions on free speech in the bill as currently written. Both sides will present their cases to the Louisiana legislature this session.

The new Internet crimes classification has not been passed into law. Nevertheless, those to whom it might apply would do well to understand their rights and obligations if the legislation is enacted. If a bill is passed and is signed by the governor, there will likely be a further constitutional challenge, and it is probable that we have not heard the last of the public debate over these attempts to amend Louisiana law.

Source: necn.com, "La. lawmakers seek to rewrite Facebook ban," April 4, 2012

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