Texas’ top criminal court yesterday reversed the convictions of seven men who were sentenced to prison for talking dirty to minors online, reports the Dallas Morning News. They are among the first to see their convictions reversed after a 2013 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision overturned a state law criminalizing sexually explicit online communication with minors. The court said the law was written so broadly that it infringed on free speech rights, prohibiting things such as sexually explicit literature and films.
Last year, lawmakers passed a new measure that requires prosecutors to prove an intent to act illegally on sexually explicit communications. Those convicted under the old law could have their cases overturned. It's unclear how many convictions could be vacated as a result of the 2013 decision. “Many people who are getting their cases dismissed might fit the common description of pervert,” said Shannon Edmonds of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. “But not everything is against the law.” In 2005, lawmakers trying to prevent sexual crimes against children passed a law that prohibited “sexually explicit” online communication with a minor if the intent of that discussion was arousal or gratifying a sexual desire. It specifically prohibited “communication, language, or material, including a photographic or video image, that relates to or describes sexual conduct.”