internet ban sex offender

Court of Appeals Vacates “Complete Computer & Internet Ban” Condition Imposed on Sex Offender

In United States v. Holena, the Third Circuit Court concluded that a district court can NOT impose a blanket computer and Internet ban on a sex offender.
In the present case, the defendant, a convicted sex offender, was prohibited from using internet accessible devices as a condition of parole. The district court convicted Holena for violating his internet ban parole condition.  Hence, the defendant appealed his parole violation conviction.  The Court of Appeals found that a complete computer and Internet ban were too broad In addition, the court reasoned that this ban were too restrictive.  For example, the defendant could not access news websites, any court website, or online shopping websites Further, the Court found that such “draconian” conditions infringe on First Amendment freedoms.  In the end, the Court vacated the defendant’s sentence and sent the case back to the district court for a new hearing.

Impact on others:

Due to this decision, some sex offenders now can challenge a complete Internet ban.
At Maynard Law Office, LLC, our firm provides legal services to address CSL and PSL conditions.  We successfully have modified our clients’ parole conditions.  We prepare an application to the Parole Board, and we fight for our clients’ rights.  Most of all, clients who had a complete Internet ban, can now use the internet.

Facts of U.S. v. Holena:

In Holena, the defendant chatted online with a “fourteen-year-old boy.”  In reality, the “boy” was an undercover FBI agent.  The defendant attempted to meet the “boy,” and the police arrested him.  As a result, the police charged Holena with attempting to entice a minor to engage in sex acts.
After the defendant plead guilty, a judge sentenced him to ten years of prison and a lifetime of supervised release.  The conditions of supervised release included computer and internet restrictions.  The defendant violated the terms of his release twice.  As a result, the court imposed a lifetime computer and Internet ban.

Court’s Holding on Internet Ban:

The Court states that conditions of supervised release must be “tailored” to the danger an offender poses. Moreover, these conditions must further the goals of supervised release.  These goals include protecting the public and prevent sex offense recidivism.  The court found that a complete computer and Internet ban do not further these goals.

Court’s Reasoning:

The Third Circuit also cites to the landmark decision United States v. Packingham, which involved a similar issue.
To emphasize, the Court of Appeals stated that:
“[t]he District Court can limit [defendant’s] First Amendment rights with appropriately tailored conditions of supervised release… But…[u]nder Packingham, blanket internet restrictions will rarely be tailored enough to pass constitutional muster.”
If you or a loved one have a complete computer or Internet ban, you should consult with a lawyer.  An experienced lawyer can review your case, and seek to modify these conditions.

Contact our law firm today:

At Maynard Law Office, LLC, we have helped many clients change their parole conditions, especially, those that prohibit computer and Internet use.  So, call our law firm today for a free consultation at (973)-540-0054!
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