A new Louisiana law steps up the penalties imposed on sex offenders in the state by prohibiting them from using social-media websites. This latest restriction is just one of many imposed on people convicted of sex crimes in Louisiana.
Under House Bill 55, any person required to register as a sex offender is banned from using or accessing social-networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks if he or she has been convicted of:
- Indecent behavior with juveniles
- Pornography involving juveniles
- Computer-aided solicitation of a minor
- Video voyeurism
- Other sex offenses in which the victim was a minor
The law defines the prohibited types of social media as follows:
- Chat room: Any website through which users have the ability to communicate via text and which allows messages to be visible to all other users or to a designated segment of all other users
- Social-networking website: A website that allows users to create web pages or profiles about themselves that are available to the general public or to any other users or that offers a mechanism for communication among users like a forum, chat room, email or instant messaging
- Peer-to-peer network: A connection of computer systems through which files are shared directly between the systems on a network without the need for a central server
These significant restrictions may be lifted only if the individual obtains permission to use social-networking websites from his or her probation or parole officer or from a judge.
In addition, the penalties for prohibited use of social-networking websites by a sex offender can be severe. If convicted, the individual could be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail and to pay up to a $10,000 fine. For a second conviction, the individual could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $20,000 and spend five to 20 years in jail.
The social-media ban imposed on people convicted of certain sex offenses in Louisiana applies in addition to the other requirements imposed on people convicted of sex crimes, including sex offender registration.
Louisiana Sex Offender Registration
According to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, a person must register and provide notification as a sex offender if he or she has been convicted of a reportable sex crime and is living, working or attending school in Louisiana.
Sex crimes requiring registration vary depending on the age of the convicted person and whether a minor was a victim of the offense. However, some crimes that generally require sex offender registration under the Louisiana Revised Statutes include:
- Sexual battery
- Child trafficking for sexual purposes
- Indecent behavior with juveniles
- Prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and a student
- Intentional exposure to AIDS virus
To register, the individual must report to the parish sheriff and also report to the police department if the parish's population is greater than 450,000.
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections states that a person required to register as a sex offender must provide the following information to the sheriff or police:
- Name and any aliases
- Social Security number
- Birth date
- A current photograph and physical description including sex, race, age, height, weight, hair color, eye color, scars and tattoos
- Fingerprints, hand prints and a DNA sample
- Residential address
- Telephone numbers
- Name and physical address of his or her place of employment or school, if applicable
- Two types of proof of residence such as driver's licenses and utility bills or an affidavit
- A description of any vehicles driven, including license plate numbers
- Every email address, online screen name or other online identity used by the person to communicate on the Internet
- The crime, date and place of conviction as well as the court name, case docket number, applicable statute and sentence imposed, if known
- Passport and documents establishing immigration status
Depending on the conviction, the individual may be required to register, confirm or update this information every 3 months, every 6 months or yearly.
Louisiana places significant restrictions and requirements on people convicted of sex offenses, and the conditions can be burdensome. If you have questions about sex offender registration or have been charged with a sex crime, promptly contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer for legal advice specific to your case.