Justice Turner: A dating app can land you a sex offender charge

Says persons engaged in online dating must practice due diligence

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The use of mobile dating apps could possibly lead to imprisonment.

While dating may be easier with the use of mobile apps such as Tinder, which virtually closes the gap between users in an area and allows them to exchange photos or have sexual encounters, Supreme Court Justice Bernard Turner highlighted Wednesday that the true age of a person is sometimes difficult when using dating apps, and this is where the problem lies.  And according to Turner, it’s a blurred line that is causing much debate in criminal proceedings.

Addressing the National Crime Council’s regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Justice Turner warned persons who engage in online dating to do their due diligence as there have been an increase in international sex cases involving individuals being labeled as sex offenders.

According to Justice Turner, this is mainly due to persons arranging to meet with others who are lying about their real age. If this happens, Justice Turner said the accused has a limited defense if they are under the age of 21.

Your obligation as a person is to ensure that the person you decide to have sex with is of the age of consent,” he said.

 But how does one do this when social media has made it so easy for users to portray a surreal life with false information?

According to Justice Turner, the courts have been grappling with using information on social media as evidence in court proceedings due to archaic policies that did not anticipate the birth of the digital era.

Things that you see on social media – you have to ask yourself, ‘do you have proof that a criminal offense took place?’ But, how do you translate what you see on Instagram or Facebook or some information forwarded on WhatsApp, how do you prove in a court of law where that information came from? What is the source of that information? That is the more difficult question.”

Meanwhile, Justice Turner said that the government is reviewing international legislation to see how laws in The Bahamas can be modernized. He noted, however, that in some cases there have been some exceptions to the rule.