The United States Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that criminalizes use of social media by registered sex offenders in Packingham v. North Carolina on June 19, 2017. A link to that Supreme Court decision is attached. This was a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling, essentially stating that even a registered sex offender has first amendment rights regarding freedom of speech.
Kentucky, like many states, restricts convicted sex offenders from using social media. This is expanded after the parole or probation period ends and is included with sex-offender registration which can include a 10 year, 20 year, or lifetime registration requirement.
Kentucky law also criminalizes registrants from “knowingly or intentionally use a social networking Web site or an instant messaging or chat room program if that Web site or program allows a person who is less than eighteen (18) years of age to access or use the Web site or program.” Of course, this includes Instagram, Twitter, FaceBook, SnapChat and many other social media websites.
The supreme Court stated: A fundamental First Amendment principle is that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection,s peak and listen once more. Today, one of the most important places to exchange views is cyberspace, particularly social media, which offers “relatively unlimited, lo-cost capacity for communication of all kinds.
It is unclear whether this change will also apply to persons who are on probation or parole, where the use of certain media may be limited as a condition of probation/parole. There are other crimes in Kentucky regarding registration which may be impacted, but not directly addressed by this Court ruling. Those include registration of your email addresses, FaceBook and other social media accounts. Best legal advice is to report all accounts until/unless the law changes. Time and case law will ferret out whether failure to report your account remains a criminal act.
If you have questions or concerns, contact a criminal defense attorney. For consultation in Kentucky, call Michael Bouldin at 859-581-6453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.