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Pennsylvania Analyzing Use of Social Media by Sex Offenders

The widespread availability of the internet has made all of our lives considerably easier. Whether it is doing some online shopping or checking out a weather report, there is a wealth of information at our fingertips whenever we need it.

However, many law enforcement agencies believe that the internet has also made it easier for sexual predators to find new victims. This has led to several police departments devoting significant resources to new investigative units geared toward catching sexual predators before problems arise.

These particular teams often run sting operations to try to entice offenders into committing sex crimes. The officers might pretend to be a child, and then try to get the offender to meet the child at a specific point of time. People with no intentions of harming or hurting a child may then be facing accusations by officials, which can have an extremely negative impact on all aspects of a person's life.

Recently, law enforcement agencies have started to focus more attention toward social networking and social media sites. Because of this increased monitoring, there is a bill being proposed in Pennsylvania that would increase internet restrictions placed on sex offenders.

The bill, proposed by State Representative Eugene Despaquale, would allow judges in child sex cases to ban offenders from using social media websites. Many other states already have some of these laws in place, but they are being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional.

No matter what happens with the current bill, there are severe consequences for anyone convicted of a sex crime. Jail time is almost a certainty, and offenders will have to register as a sex offender once they have been released from prison. Offenders will face restrictions on where they can move, and will have difficulty finding work.

It is extremely important to take these accusations seriously. A conviction will have a long-lasting impact on nearly every aspect of a person's life. Knowing the options that are available in any particular situation can help prepare a strong defense to the accusations.

Source: Fox43.com "Sexual offenders and social media: Laws needed to keep kids safe" Courtney Laydon, May 23, 2012.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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