U.S. Supreme Court Decides Case That Impacts Laws For Sex Offenders

Texas places several types of restrictions on sex offenders including prohibition on the types of websites they can access. The strength of these laws, however, has come under question after the United States Supreme Court ruled that similar laws in North Carolina violate the First Amendment. It is important for sex offenders to both understand these new laws as well as the restrictions that the state of Texas currently places on sex offenders.

The Supreme Court on North Carolina v. Packingham

The case of North Carolina v. Packingham involved a North Carolina law that prevented sex offenders from using social networking sites where children might be members. The state argued that websites should be restricted for sexual offenders because many children use these sites and are at risk of being harmed while online. Despite this argument, however, the Supreme Court of the United States found that this law restricts the First Amendment rights of individuals.

Texas Restrictions on Sex Offender

Texas places similar restrictions on sex offenders. The Attorney General of Texas also one of 13 state attorneys who signed a brief to the court reviewing North Carolina’s law. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is currently in a period of evaluating the impact that Packingham will have on sex offenders in the state. Currently, the state of Texas places many long-term restrictions on individuals who are convicted as sex offenders including the following:

  • Contact Restrictions: There are various restrictions in the state of Texas concerning the type of contact that sex offenders have with the community. These restrictions include frequent alcohol or drug screening, inability to purchase a firearm, limited internet access, movement restrictions, prohibiting contact with minors or the victim.
  • Employment Restrictions: The location where sex offenders are permitted to work in the state of Texas is restricted.These individuals are prohibited from pursuing employment in child safety zones. These zones include athletic fields, day care centers, parks, schools, and youth centers. There are also additional restrictions in some areas concerning where a sex offender can live. Licensing agencies might also deny a sex offenders a professional license including individuals who are day care workers, coaches, teachers, or physicians.
  • Residency Restrictions: The state of Texas places many residency restrictions on sex offenders. These individuals are prohibited from living or visiting any area that is within 500 feet of a child safety zone.
    Voting Privileges: Individuals who are convicted as sex offenders are unable to vote while they are on parole or probation.

Contact a Knowledgeable Denton Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged as a sex offender in the state of Texas, retain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney who understands all applicable laws. Not only can seasoned legal counsel help create a strong defense to these charges, a lawyer will also be able to answer any questions that might arise concerning the sex offender registration process. Contact Wheeler Law Office today.

(image courtesy of Daniel von Appen)