Monday, June 26, 2017

TDCAA: Some Texas probation, parole orders may violate new SCOTUS ruling on sex-offender access to the internet

How will the new Supreme Court ruling in Packingham v. North Carolina - which forbade blanket bans on use of the internet for sex offenders - affect Texas cases? The Texas District and County Attorneys Association offered this preliminary analysis:
Texas does not have a statute that criminalizes a sex offender’s access to social media websites, but Texas does have statutes that permit orders prohibiting a sex offenders’ access to social networking sites, both as a condition of parole (§508.1861(b)(1)(B) of the Government Code) and as a condition of probation (Art. 42A.454(b)(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure). Based upon the broad language of this decision, it seems likely that a wholesale prohibition of access to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram would be unconstitutional. A more directed condition, prohibiting communication with minors or prohibiting access to chat rooms or dating websites, would seem to be permissible, even under this decision. But it is certainly going to create new litigation.


  1. Since when has anyone in the judicial system been concerned if something they do is unconstitutional? It seems that they go out of their way to step all over the constitution at every chance they get. Especially when it comes to sex offenses.

  2. Facebook already has a Terms of Service rule which forbids sex-offenders from having an account there. If they ferret you out, you will be locked out of you account.

  3. TDCAA is right, there will be more litigation. But it will have to be brought by SO's trying to regain some of their rights. It will not be cheap, it will take forever, and Texas will fight tooth and nail. And it's likely Texas will STILL deny the first few cases just out of spite. It would not be the first time that Texas ignores SCOTUS decisions; it will not be the last.

    Whichever of us first attempts this, please, please, please get a good attorney!

  4. Come on yall....SO who have served their time, must at some point lead a normal productive life. The stereotypes that are out really criminalize these "people" for LIFE. Everyone should be given another chance. I understand the the seriousness of sex offenses, when they are/were serious; however, looking into most of these cases, the sex was consensual. Now those predators out there, who have shown no change, should be monitored and maybe not have access to people, but we should not lump every SO in one category as all bad.
    Don't mean to offend anyone, but we're talking about people's chance to a real life.

  5. @ Anonymous 10:15

    Facebook is now a publicly owned/traded company instead of a previously privately owned company. If I'm not mistaken, the rules for TOS (terms of service) are different for private vs public companies. Those that know more about this, feel free to correct me.

    @ Anonymous 12:31

    I agree with you, especially "Everyone should be given another chance." The only thing that I differ an tiny bit from what you stated was the part where you pointed out about the "seriousness of sex offenses". Well, of course any sex offense is serious. So too is murder, armed robbery, home invasions etc.,

    Are sex offenses the most absolutely worse crime that a person can commit? I don't think it's any worse than taking someone's life --- death is pretty final don't you think. Sex offenses can adversely affect the lives of so many people and is terrible. But --- so too does murder, child abuse (other than sexual abuse), wife beating, bullying and so on and so forth.

    We Americans have had a dysfunctional hang-up about our views on the word SEX for way to long. Why should anyone's life be pretty much over if they commit a crime that can land them on the sex offender registry? This whole approach to how we deal with former sex offenders is pure madness. They should be punished, but not any more so than any other serious crime offender. Hard and fast empirical evidence point to the very low reoffense rates (for new sex offenses) for those released from prison for sex offenses. This low rate of recidivism is nothing new, it's remained constant for many decades and is NOT the result of the registry, child safety zones, or residency restrictions or the mandated treatment for that matter.

    This US Supreme Court ruling is very telling and hopefully will lead to a way to end the discrimination currently being applied to the registered citizens of this nation.

  6. Tap on the brakes a little bit. The opinion specifically mentions the fact that the North Carolina law applies to persons who are "no longer being supervised by the State." Persons on parole or probation have a less robust expression of constitutional rights than those who are not. Many constitutional rights are severely curtailed for parolees / probationers. The claim that an internet restriction will aid in the supervisee's rehabilitation and protect the community from harm are the rationales for the current regime of internet restrictions on supervisees; most especially those who used the internet to commit their offense. I see little in this opinion that will change that.