A three-judge panel has affirmed a lower court ruling that portions of North Carolina's law restricting where registered sex offenders can be is unconstitutional.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit issued its decision on Wednesday.
In this case, the statute in question made it a Class H felony (punishable by “a presumptive term of imprisonment of 20 months) for sex offenders to “knowingly be” at any of the following locations:
(1) On the premises of any place intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, schools, children’s museums, child care centers, nurseries, and playgrounds. (2) Within 300 feet of any location intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors when the place is located on premises that are not intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, places described in subdivision (1) . . . that are located in malls, shopping centers, or other property open to the general public. [Or] (3) At any place where minors gather for regularly scheduled educational, recreational, or social programs. NCGS 14-208.18(a).
The court held, first, that the provisions of subsection (3) are unconstitutionally vague; “neither an ordinary citizen nor a law enforcement officer could reasonably determine what activity was criminalized by subsection (a)(3).”