Reply To: Packingham: Unanimous Court strikes NC’s social media ban


Conditions of probation and/or parole exist as a legitimate extension of punishment because one remains under a sentencing order (and is, therefore, still being lawfully punished….just not in prison). Requirements related to the sex offender registry are separate. So, as a registered citizen, the Packingham decision provides relief from the social media ban. BUT as BOTH a registered citizen AND a probationer or parolee, one’s restrictions flow directly from the conditions of probation or parole as determined by the officer assigned to the case. Can a probation officer in North Carolina restrict a probationer from access to social media? Yes. A probation officer can even restrict one’s access to a computer if it seems like a restriction reasonably related to the interests of probation. The outcome of this case does nothing at all to change the circumstances of probation. This case only impacts registered citizens who are no longer under any form of probation or court-imposed supervision. Can your probation officer release you from any restrictions on the use of social media? Yes. But, as I recommended earlier, I would get that in writing before establishing any social media accounts. AND IN ADDITION TO THAT, PLEASE DO NOT FORGET that North Carolina registration laws STILL REQUIRE you to report any changes in your online identifiers within three days. Don’t forget to do that or you’ll end up where Packingham started for a whole different reason. Best rule of thumb: If you have any doubt about your ability to do it, DON’T do it. These folks are not playing. They are very serious about arresting you and placing you back into prison.