Third Circuit finds 10-year Internet ban constitutional in child pornography case

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] on Monday upheld [opinion, PDF] a 20-year prison sentence and a 10-year Internet ban imposed on a man convicted of receiving child pornography. Paul Thielemann, who pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography challenged his prison as well as the conditions of his supervised release, which restrict him from viewing sexually explicit material or using the Internet for 10 years. The court rejected the challenge the prison sentence, finding that it fell within sentencing guidelines. The court also rejected the challenges to the conditions of the supervised release, finding no violation of Thielemann's constitutional rights. Addressing the restrictions on viewing sexually explicit material, the court wrote:


We hold that there is a significant nexus between restricting Thielemann from access to adult "sexually explicit" material and the goals of supervised release, and that the restriction here is not overbroad or vague considering the content of the instant record. As such, First Amendment implications are not involved.

The court also found that the 10-year Internet ban "shares a nexus to the goals of deterrence and protection of the public, and does not involve a greater deprivation of liberty than is necessary in this case."

In January, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Congress acted beyond its authority when it enacted a law that allows indefinite federal civil commitment of "sexually dangerous" offenders beyond the end of their sentences. The Fourth Circuit was the first circuit court to rule on the constitutionality of 18 USC § 4248 [text]. Last August, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that computer and PO box use restrictions placed on those convicted of child pornography offenses are reasonable as long as they are reasonably connected to their conviction and are construed narrowly enough to allow legitimate computer and mail use.

 

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