Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer on Social Networking

February 5, 2009 by David S. Seltzer

In a recent announcement, Myspace.com removed 90,000 registered sex offenders from its website. What is interesting to me as a Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer, is how many of those individuals removed may have been in violation of their sex offender conditions by being online? And if so, will they be prosecuted for the violation?

Usually sexual crimes involving minors committed in today's world involve restrictions on what individuals can and cannot do. In almost all circumstances I have experienced, internet usage has been severally restricted. If an individual who is a registered sexual offender or predator is on probation and requires the use of a computer to work, their freedom to surf the internet is limited. In most cases the machine is equipped with either a keystroke logger or some other form of monitoring device, which allows probation to supervise and monitor every move. Website access is limited to only those sites that the individual requires for work, once they are approved by the appropriate agency's involved.

I can imagine very few circumstances that would require an individual on sexual offender or predator probation to be using myspace.com or any other comparable social networking site, such as facebook.com. That being said, one thing we as a society need to address is, are all individuals who are forced to register as sex offenders, really sex offenders, in the sense that are they a danger to the community? And how long until the courts attempt to impose a lifelong ban on internet usage by sex offenders or predators?

In my opinion each situation must be visited on a case-by-case basis, only after a careful review and understanding of the underlying facts. Working as a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney, I come across all types of criminal activity and each case must be looked at in a vacuum, as no two cases are alike. Some individuals end up in situations where they are not a danger to the community, and are labeled for the rest of their life.

Case on point, as a Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer, I represent an individual who had consensual intercourse with a minor when he was barely an adult. Unfortunately, he does not qualify under the new Romeo & Juliette laws, and now with a wife and two kids, has nowhere to live since he has been evicted from his home once his landlord learned of his status. Miami Dade County told him to use the MacArthur Causeway as his registered address. Is that what we as a society have become? The city in which he lives does not truly allow sex offenders to live there. However, they are willing to look at each case on a case-by-case basis and if a court of competent jurisdiction makes a finding that the individual is not a danger to the community, then the city will allow him to continue to reside there. Just one of the many reasons why the legislature needs to take another crack at the registration statutes, because sometimes good people get caught in the crossfire.