Law Banning On-Line Communication with Minors Fails in Texas Courts


In a recent case, John Christoper Lo challenged his conviction of a third degree felony of communicating in a sexually explicit way with a minor. Lo stated that he believed the individual that he was communicating with was a minor and that he was communicating with this person to satisfy his own sexual wants. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard the case of Lo, and the court recently determined that a law banning sexual communications with minors over the Internet was facially invalid for being overbroad.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was granted discretionary review to consider the constitutionality of the Texas law banning online solicitation. Ultimately the court concluded that Section 33.021(b) of the Texas Penal Code is invalid because it is not narrowly drawn to the legitimate purpose of protecting children from sex abuse. The court did point out that children currently receive a wide range of protections under other Texas laws. These laws protect children from harassment or being the recipient of harmful materials.

Other laws concerning the protection of minors from sexual abuse have also been recently handled by courts. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found that its sex registry law was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that sex registries were constitutional in the case of Smith v. Doe. However, experts believe that the Supreme Court may change its positions in the future. If more jurisdictions begin to realize that sex registries and change their laws accordingly, then the Supreme Court may alter its position on the issue.

The ACLU has also been involved in litigation concerning sex offenders. In 2011, the ACLU fought against a Louisiana law limiting the access of sex offenders to Internet use. The ACLU argued that limiting a sex offender’s access to the Internet could restrict his or her ability to gain employment and become a productive member of society again. There are currently a few other states grappling with this issue, and they include Georgia, California and New Jersey.


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