D.C. Circuit OKs Internet Ban for Online Solicitation of a Minor

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that a man convicted of soliciting sex with a minor over the internet can be banned from using the internet, unless he receives prior permission from his probation officer. In upholding the ban imposed in U.S. v. Love by a lower court, the three-judge panel joined what it referred to as a “consensus” among circuits around the country that the imposition of such restrictions is not too harsh a penalty.

“Consensus is emerging among our sister circuits that internet bans, while perhaps unreasonably broad for defendants who possess or distribute child pornography, may be appropriate for those who use the Internet to ‘initiate or facilitate the victimization of children,’” wrote Judge Thomas Griffith. “The distinction is grounded in the simple proposition that when a defendant has used the Internet to solicit sex with minors, ‘the hazard presented by recidivism’ is greater than when the defendant has traded child pornography.”

The internet ban will commence once Allan Love is released after completing his sentence for transporting or shipping material involving child pornography. Love had also solicited sex with an undercover officer’s fictitious daughter, however, and that fact led to the imposition of the internet ban. Love’s lawyer, assistant federal public defender Beverly Dyer, argued on appeal that the restriction was overbroad, and asked for a ban on only electronic communication involving prohibited sexual material, but the appeals court felt the harsher imposition was “eminently reasonable.”

In coming down on the side of a total ban on internet use, the panel noted that the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th circuits also have recognized the distinction noted above in approving internet bans.

Love received a sentence of sentence of 188 months, followed by supervised release for life.