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Registered sex offenders lose the right to play online

It's no secret that the punishments doled out for sex crime conviction are serious and varied in nature. On top of steep fines and lengthy prison time, a guilty verdict will follow a person for the rest of their life in the form of registered sex offender status. With it comes not only an extremely negative social stigma, but also the revocation of many basic privileges and freedoms that everyday citizens enjoy.

One of Connecticut's neighboring states added a somewhat surprising item to the list of activities prohibited to convicted sex offenders: online video games. New York state late last month expanded its "Operation: Game Over" initiative as it purged over 2,100 online gaming accounts from various networks after they were found to be held by registered sex offenders. The measure was undertaken in an attempt to keep young children who might use the games free from contact with the offenders.

3,800 other gaming customers with online accounts were removed from a number of platforms last April in a nationwide push to purge said networks of sex offenders. The specific New York state law also requires those registered as sex offenders to notify the state of every online identity they create for themselves after leaving prison and/or paying fines. This list is then cross referenced by private internet companies in order to better track and often remove such users from online communities.

So far these sorts of measures have been met with widespread support from the online video gaming industry. Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive, Warner Brothers, and Sony have all willingly cooperated with the New York Attorney General's requests.

Although it's clear to many facing a sex crime charge that a "guilty" verdict will bring about a more difficult, often times limited life in the future, it may come as some surprise that something as simple as playing a video game may become outlawed by state laws. With the perceived success of the New York law, it's very likely that similar measures will be enacted in other states, and Connecticut may be no exception. In situations when sex charges have been alleged, only the help of a criminal defense attorney can make a lessened charge or "not guilty" verdict possible, sparing a person from a lifetime as a shunned, second-class citizen.

Source: NBC News, "NY ousts sex offefnders from online games," Ben Weitzenkorn, Dec. 20, 2012

•Registered sex offender status can be filled with unexpected complications. For more information on how to navigate such a situation, contact our Stamford sex crime defense law page.

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