Whether it is through a social networking platform, a chat room or an instant messaging program, there are numerous ways for a person in Indiana to communicate with someone else through the Internet. For most people, this is generally not a legal issue. However, if a person is prohibited from using the Internet to communicate with certain persons, and has previously been convicted of a sex crime, should they use the Internet to communicate with other people they could be criminally charged.
Under Indiana Code 35-42-4-12, if a convicted sex offender knowingly or intentionally commits a violation of a condition of probation or parole or a rule of a community transition program in which the offender is prohibited from utilizing social networking web sites, instant messaging programs or chat rooms to communicate with a youth under age 16, that offender can be charged with a sex offender Internet offense. Generally, the commission of this type of crime is a Class A misdemeanor. But, the offense is raised to a Level 6 felony if the offender has been previously convicted of this same crime.
There is an important defense to this law, however. If the offender had the reasonable belief that the individual they were contacting over the Internet was age 16 or above, this is a defense to the prosecution of this type of crime. This is important, as it is quite easy for a person to lie about their age on the Internet, due to the anonymity the Internet provides users.
People who have committed sex crimes may find that their life has forever been changed even after they have finished their sentence. They may be restricted in where they can live and who they can contact. Indiana residents facing these circumstances need to understand how these laws affect them.