July 10, 2017By Brian Manchester
Are you a registered Megan’s Law Offender in Pennsylvania? If you have been convicted of or are being charged with a sex crime in Pennsylvania this is important information about your First Amendment rights.
While reading the American Bar Association Journal today I came across an interesting article on the rights on the first Amendment in our US Constitution and how powerful this right is. A recently decided US Supreme Court decision illustrated this. PACKINGHAM v. NORTH CAROLINA No. 15–1194. Argued February 27, 2017—Decided June 19, 2017.
There is a law in North Carolina that makes it a felony to access the internet/websites that have any social media connection for convicted individuals who also had to become registered sex offenders. This law included individuals who had completed all other aspects of their sentencing other than the registration requirement.
The Court stated: In sum, to foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights. It is unsettling to suggest that only a limited set of websites can be used even by persons who have completed their sentences. Even convicted criminals—and in some instances especially convicted criminals—might receive legitimate benefits from these means for access to the world of ideas, in particular if they seek to reform and to pursue lawful and rewarding lives.
It is well established that, as a general rule, the Government “may not suppress lawful speech as the means to suppress unlawful speech.” Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U. S., at 255. That is what North Carolina has done here. Its law must be held invalid.
How will this decision affect cases in Pennsylvania? Can the Courts still impose restrictions when an individual is still on probation? These questions still remain and will have to be figured out through litigation here in Pennsylvania.
If you, your son, daughter, loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation. Here at Manchester and Associates, we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a free consultation we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.