Federal Courts are Split on the Imposition of Internet Bans as Penalty
In Philadelphia, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, recently overturned a lifetime internet ban, which was imposed as part of a convicted child sex offender’s sentence. In reversing the defendant’s internet ban, the Third Circuit displayed its stance on the argument of internet as a right versus a privilege. The defendant, in the appeal, had been sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment, followed by a lifetime of restricted internet access as a preventative measure against recidivism; he pled guilty to transferring photographs of children engaged in sexual acts via the internet, caught by an FBI agent who was undercover as one of his recipients.
The Third Circuit noted that the longest internet ban ever upheld by that Court was a ten year ban, following a twenty year prison sentence. The Eleventh Circuit recently upheld an unconditional lifetime ban on internet privileges, where the defendant was sentenced to six years imprisonment for traveling across state lines to have sexual relations with a minor. The judiciary system affords broad discretion when applying “special conditions” to probation and parole. This concept is rooted in the need for judges to weigh each defendant’s qualities, on a case by case basis, in order to determine how to best protect society and rehabilitate the defendant upon their release from custody. The variance in the Circuit Court opinions illustrates the broad discretion afforded to the Courts. Inevitably, the issue of internet privilege bans is one that must be brought before, and decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.
The argument for banning internet privileges is obvious; to prevent convicted child sex offenders from committing future harm upon release from prison. Those against internet bans raise the Civil Rights issues involved. As we advance further into the twenty-first century, the internet becomes more and more a vital part of our everyday lives. We use the internet to buy things, sell things, communicate, research, and even find employment. Banning one’s internet privileges not only prejudices a defendant in today’s society, but also severely impacts their future when the internet becomes even more necessary. Although the right to internet access is not provided by the Bill of Rights, proponents of the argument cite to the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech as one way an internet ban is unconstitutional. Some proponents of banning privileges, such as the Motion Pictures Association, have proposed a “three-strike” policy when dealing with copyright infringers. Such a policy, when applied to child sex offenders, would likely invite extreme criticism. Until the issue is decided by the Supreme Court, however, the imposition of internet bans will be decided on a case by case basis, impacted by the area of the country where the crime occurred.
Crimes against Minors
Knowingly persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity is a violation of both State and Federal laws. If you are being investigated or have been arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a minor, attempting to do so, or other crimes against minors such as possession of child pornography, the Law Offices of Marc Neff can help. There are defenses which are available to you, so do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff immediately.
For a confidential consultation call (215) 563-9800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.