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Court Rules Against Sex Offender On Internet Use

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Rejecting First Amendment arguments, a state appeals court Wednesday upheld restrictions on internet use by a sex offender. 

The ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeal came in a Hillsborough County case in which Quinton Alford was sentenced to 10 years of sex-offender probation for kidnapping and three years of sex-offender probation for sexual battery.

The terms of probation included barring Alford from using social media and prevented internet use except for work or shopping. Alford argued that the restrictions were overly broad and violated First Amendment rights, preventing him from accessing such things as news, medical and political information, according to the ruling by a three-judge panel of the appeals court.

He also pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down a North Carolina law restricting internet use by registered sex offenders. But the appeals court Wednesday said Alford’s case was different than the North Carolina issue because it involved terms of probation, rather than broader restrictions on registered sex offenders.

The ruling, written by appeals court Judge Robert Morris and joined by judges Darryl Casanueva and Anthony Black, said the North Carolina case “involved a statute that criminalized future behavior and not a condition of supervision that is part of a sentence. We thus conclude that Alford's special conditions are not unconstitutional. Alford has not argued or demonstrated any other legal ground that would invalidate these conditions of probation.”