The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in US v. Blair, ruled that a special condition on the Defendant’s Internet use that was “limited to those the defendant requests to use, and which the probation officer authorizes” involved a greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary for deterring criminal activity because it allows the probation office to completely ban the defendant’s use of the Internet by failing to place any restraints on a probation officer’s ability to restrict a defendant’s Internet access.

Blair argued that this special condition was more restrictive “than is reasonably necessary” in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d)(2). The Court agreed.

While THE COURT STILL CAN BAN INTERNET USE, a special condition of release that gives the probation office discretion to ban completely a defendant’s use doesn’t fly because it allows the probation office the discretion to completely ban a means of communication that has become a necessary component of modern life, which is a greater deprivation than necessary.

A useful excerpt from this case is the following, “…Four years later, the role that computers and the Internet play in our everyday lives has become even more pronounced, and we expect that trend to continue. Thus, what was a reasonable restriction on Internet-use in our earlier cases may be different from what is reasonable today. We must read our prior cases in light of the evolution of the Internet and the public’s dependency on it.”

NOTE: The 10th Circuit covers Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

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