State v. McMahon, No. 54,740-KA (La. Ct. App. 2022)
Nature of Case: Defendant, who was on supervised probation for a sex offense, was convicted of unlawful use of a social networking site, in violation of La. R.S. 14:91.5, after a probation officer searched Defendant’s phone and found applications for Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.
Defendant now appeals arguing that Louisiana’s statute prohibiting use of social networking sites by certain categories of required registrants is unconstitutional because it infringes on his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Citing Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730 (2017), he argues that the statute, as written, is not narrowly written to prevent illicit communications between sex offenders and minors but is a blanket restriction on First Amendment rights.
Holding: The Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit rejected Defendant’s arguments and affirmed the lower court’s decision. In so holding, the Court distinguished the Louisiana statute from the North Carolina statute found to be unconstitutional in Packingham, noting that Louisiana’s statute applied more narrowly to a subset of required registrants and that the statute more narrowly defined the term “social networking site”. For those reasons, the Court concluded that La. R.S. 14:91.5 does not violate the First Amendment rights of those required sex offense registrants who are prevented from using social networking sites.