Plan to fight in Texas (HB 23)

Civil Rights Group Questions Constitutionally of Proposal  


Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc. (RSOL) plans to oppose Texas House Bill 23, a proposal that was recently filed by State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio). The legislation would require all of Texas’s 72,000 + registered sex offenders, whether or not still under supervision and whether or not the registerable offense involved a minor or the Internet, to post specific information, including identifying him or herself as a registered sex offender and giving other personal, identifying information on any and all social network sites the registrant chooses to use.

RSOL was quick to criticize this proposed law as unconstitutional and one that would likely be struck down in the courts.

  • RSOL believes that this proposal is overly broad because it would require a registered person to post such “Notices” on all social network sites, regardless of whether or not the site has a significant number of minors or even permits minors to join. Furthermore, it covers all persons required to register as a sex offender even though many have completed their court-ordered punishment and even though many had not committed crimes against minors nor were their offenses facilitated by misuse of the Internet.
  • RSOL believes that requiring such a person to post a “Notice” including specifics and details about a person’s past conduct would chill that person’s legitimate speech rights under the First Amendment. Does the bill’s sponsor believe that a person no longer has the right to anonymously criticize any governmental action simply because that individual has been convicted of any type of sexual offense?
  • RSOL believes that laws which mandate that commercial entities require a user to convey a specific message as a condition of being on the network exceeds the government’s authority and are facially unconstitutional.
  • Social networks constitute a vital communication link, which permits citizens to express alternative ideas, oppose their government, and organize their efforts. As such, laws that force a private entity to coerce a citizen to carry the government’s message are facially invalid.
  • Social networks, such as Facebook, that cater to minors already have their own policies that prohibit registered sex offenders from accessing their networks. This new law is unnecessary because a simple notice from a concerned citizen already results in the deletion of the sex offender’s account.
  • Contrary to what is commonly understood, registration as a sex offender is supposed to be a non-punitive, collateral consequence of a conviction for a sex offense. In fact, the US Supreme Court held registration to be constitutional because the Alaska requirements at the time did not impose any disability or restraint on the offender. See Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003).
  • RSOL believes that if registration is to remain constitutional, registration schemes cannot impose any disability or restraint on a registered person’s daily activities. We base that opinion on the court’s finding that, “The Act imposes no physical restraint, and so does not resemble the punishment of imprisonment, which is the paradigmatic affirmative disability or restraint.” See Id at 100.

In articulating RSOL’s position, Executive Director Brenda Jones said, “Requiring that a person wear a scarlet letter when using any social networking would impose a significant restraint on his ability to communicate freely and anonymously on the Internet, and we believe that would clearly chill constitutionally protected speech.”

Mary Sue Molner, head of RSOL’s Texas affiliate, Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, emphasized the point in an interview with KENS-TV in San Antonio that the law is designed to target everyone on the registry even though few registrants had offenses involving the Internet and even fewer had situations involving predatory behavior. She added, “We’ve got to remember that almost all registrants have wives, families (and) children, so we’re looking at, in a lot of cases, children (who) can be harmed because dad’s information is out there just a little too much.”

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8 Thoughts to “Plan to fight in Texas (HB 23)”

  1. Avatarmichael montalvo

    I misuse the internet. To a undercover detective. I exposed myself. BUt it wasnt to a real person. Now am require to register as a sex offender. I have a family and daughter. ANd everybody that know me. Know’s am not like that. Was it fair. I had a woman for a judge. MARY RAMON. no i have a Parole lady. Is, this discrimtation on my sex. I know what i did was wrong. But did i have to go to prison for it. ANd register for life. If there was no real person involved. HOnesly who is sexitexting.

  2. AvatarTammy

    I am a registered Sex offender. I was not convicted. I received 10yrs probation, however I received deferred adjudication yet I have to register for the rest of my life. I thought deferred adjudication mentioned all is dismissed after you meet all required by the court. How is this right and how can I get off the list?

  3. If this internet nightmare is not getting out of hand one has to say enough is enough. A sex offender is just a label or should I just say “offender” and now they want those in TX to post an ad on the internet stating that they are a sex offender. No telling what human mankind will want next. They want to keep the sex offender in bondage the rest of there life. They set you up on adult sites when actually they should do there sting operations in teenage chat sites as that is who they are suppose to be protecting. There is only one reason an adult would go into a teenage chat room and that’s not to deliver the morning paper.
    It all has to do with money and corrupt people that think they are saving some poor teenage gal that is nothing more than a “police decoy” that ensnares would be citizens’ into this game of blind man’s bluff. Sure I got caught up in it but like I told my probation officer .. it is what it is until it is what it aren’t Go get um people!

  4. AvatarPhil

    “Requiring that a person wear a scarlet letter when using any social networking would impose a significant restraint on his ability to communicate freely and anonymously on the Internet, and we believe that would clearly chill constitutionally protected speech.”

    Ok, then tell Facebook to mind it’s own business and stop deleting profiles of people convicted of a sex offense when use of the internet is irrelevant since using public transportation is not off limits and IF a person WANTED to commit another sex crime against someone, all they need to do is walk down the street and FIND a victim. Use of the internet takes time with “grooming” and if parents cannot be parents and teach their underwear posting pre-teens to stop sending the wrong messages to onlookers, than perhaps the parents should be barred from having internet available in their precious little homes.

    Also, if FaceBook will go out of their way to look someone up in order to make sure that user does not have asexual crime, why don’t they look up all the gang members on their site and delete them as a threat to public safety also?

    Furthermore, dear full of crap corporate Facebook, a person does not have to be a registered sex offender with any previous criminal convictions to use ANY social media for the purposes of committing a crime they THINK they might get away with. Facebook, like society, thinks ONLY people who HAVE committed a crime will continue to do so. They FORGET that there was a time in that person’s life when there WAS NO CRIMINAL RECORD with the courts. So how about we take away any avenue where someone without a criminal record can find “victims” to have sex with by DELETING THE EXISTENCE OF FACEBOOK ENTIRELY? That’ll put an end to “social media dangers”. But they won’t DARE do that.

    I firmly believe that a DAMN GOOD ATTORNEY can AT LEAST use that in their argument to the court (right in front of a FB representative) and see the LOOKS on their faces. Simply say: “Well, Mr “insert name of sued FB rep here” why don’t we just shut down Facebook entirely and that will not only put an end to existing sex offenders seeking out our young children, it will also stop future sex crimes from those who haven’t committed one yet or been caught yet. Since you are well aware that a person with a sex offense was not BORN with that offense. They had to commit the crime to get the record.”

    Just to use that in an argument would make someone with half a brain in the court system go “hmmmmm”.

  5. AvatarPhil

    Facebook needs to be sued for dictating who can use their site which was originally meant for communication with close friends and family.
    Besides, as we keep moving into the future, more and more huge organizations (even the truly important ones we all use every day) have moved themselves onto Facebook as a means of contact and business transactions.
    No one, NO ONE, regardless of person history, should be DICTATED in a FREE COUNTRY that they cannot use a particular social media.

    I will gladly join a class-action lawsuit against Facebook. But I doubt anyone (i.e. attorney) will even bother to take the chance even if all it does is make the point that ANYONE can become a sex offender (if they are not one already) by using ANY social media. So FB, get off the bullsh*t. You’re not protecting ANYONE.

  6. AvatarPeter

    Is there any effort being made to quash Texas HB 1064 that has moved out of the house committee and now scheduled to be voted on by the House.

    It has a whole laundry list of where a registered SO cannot work, live, go in or near a 1,000 foot radius of. Way too many to list and unbelievable. It even includes a public library. It’s so over the top, it will become the most restrictive I have ever read about in the U.S.

    They gathered up all the Japanese during World War II and said that was legal. Guess its only a matter of time.

    1. AvatarPeter

      Ok, I found on a separate area of this website that RSOl is trying to educate the senate on this idiotic bill.

  7. AvatarTimothy L Davis

    There is more than that dealing with the constitutionality in TX. The 7 days before and after to register, and DPS yearly licensing rules can interfere with that allowed time. The license cost and fines are punitive. Appointments to register are now being required. It is no longer convenient and non-punitive. The State has turned it into a trap.

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