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Internet restrictions included in some sex crime sentences

There are many consequences to consider when charged with a sex crime. In addition to years in prison, the accused's personal life can be impacted even after release. Sex offender registration is one example, which can impact where a person is able to find work or even to live after serving a sentence for a sex crime. Florida readers may be surprised to learn about another restriction sometimes imposed by courts upon sex offenders: restricted Internet access.

A man who was convicted for a sex crime -- arranging to meet a minor for unlawful sexual activity -- has an unusual component to his sentence. He is already serving a 30-month prison sentence. However, even after his release, the man will limited to a single, personal Internet-capable device and must be prepared for random government monitoring of his computer use. In addition, the man is permitted to own a computer only if the U.S. Probation Office first gives him approval.

The man's lawyer is requesting the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to reconsider the technological restraint. Although the man was convicted in an online child exploitation sting, his lawyer emphasized to the court that the man's alleged criminal conduct occurred over a telephone, not a computer. It will be left for the court to balance the public's interest in safety against the man's right to liberty.

This story illustrates that an aggressive criminal defense attorney's work may not end when a criminal trial is over. Sometimes that work continues even after sentencing. Every inconsistency in the prosecution's case and every weak point should be pointed out to the judge or jury. When an individual's freedom is at stake, no element of the prosecution's claims should be taken at face value.

Source: Legal Times, "D.C. Circuit Examines Computer Use Restraints in Child Exploitation Case," Mike Scarcella, Nov. 5, 2012

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