For those involved in social networking, a day can hardly go by without logging in to keep track of current events – whether they use Facebook, Google+ or even Twitter. Even for those not involved with social networking, references to the most recent outrageous celebrity “tweet” or updated “status” can be heard almost daily in the media. Since it seems almost impossible to avoid social networking in today’s day and age, some lawmakers in New Jersey want to make it a requirement for New Jersey Megan’s Law registrants to identify themselves as sex offenders on social networking sites.
Social Networking & Megan’s Law Registration
New Jersey lawmakers have been discussing various proposed restrictions on social networking by registered sex offenders for some time, but now a bill has been introduced in New Jersey’s legislature by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman.
The New Jersey bill – SB No. 2142 – was modeled after a recently enacted Louisiana law and requires those registered as sex offenders to provide some type of notification of their registration on the social networking websites they use. This requirement essentially mirrors New Jersey’s current Megan’s Law, which requires sex offenders to register their whereabouts so that the local authorities can notify neighbors of their presence – except, of course, that the proposed bill applies in cyberspace and not the real world.
Specifically, the bill would require all Megan’s Law registrants to include the following on their social network profiles, and visible to all users:
- Notice that they are sex offenders
- Notice of the sex crime for which they were convicted
- Jurisdiction of their sex crime conviction
- Physical description of themselves
- Their residential address
- A link to the Internet Registry of sex offenders if the person’s information is included on the registry
Moreover, the bill, if passed, would require all Megan’s Law registrants to give law enforcement a list of all of their e-mail addresses, identities and screen names that may be used in chat-rooms or instant messaging, in addition to a list of all social networking sites with which they may be a member.
Even though some social networking sites already have restrictions in their terms of service prohibiting sex offenders from using their sites – such as Match.com and Facebook – this bill would add to the ever-expanding list of restrictions for those convicted of sex crimes. As indicated by this most recent bill, the ramifications of a sex crime conviction are quite severe, thus illustrating the dire need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal allegations of a sexual nature.