Is the Use of a Threat on Social Media a Crime?
In the not too distant past, it was a crime to send a letter, post a notice in a newspaper or over the radio which involved a threat of violence, i.e. a threat to kill someone, or do them serious bodily injury. In Florida, statute 836.10 came into law back in 1913 and is still in force today. There have been several amendments since that date, particularly encompassing electronic communication, such as emails, cell phones and social media platforms.
It remains a crime to write, email or post a message that involves a threat to kill or do serious injury to anyone. That includes messages posted on someone’s own Facebook page.
Prosecutors interpreting the current version of the statute must be able to prove that the communication in whatever form it took must have been composed by the defendant and that it was intended as a threat of death or bodily injury and that it was intended to be sent or directed towards a certain person and that person received or saw the message.
Penalties for the crime of a written threat to kill or do bodily injury
If you are accused of this crime you face a second degree felony conviction if found guilty. This could mean up to15years in a state penitentiary and a 10,000 fine. Worse in many ways are the long term penalties. Any period of incarceration will have a very serious effect on your ability to look after your family if you have one and you are almost certain to lose your job, or prospects of advancement or education.
There are very good reasons why you should fight a charge against you of a ‘written threat to kill or do bodily injury.’ Contact Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq. for immediate attention.
Examples of threats made on social media
Threats made on paper, e.g. by letter, or by email have a direct trajectory. It is easier to discover who sent them and who received them. However, this is not so obvious on a social media site, where the threat may be more vague in nature. Here are some examples of threats which may be sufficient to be viewed as a crime.
• threats via text messages; • threatening school officials; • threat of a bomb attack or explosion; • digital threats; • threat to carry out a mass shooting.
Defenses against a charge of a social media crime
There are several defenses that can be used to combat an allegation of a social media crime or threat to kill or carry out serious bodily injury by electronic communication. The most common defenses are that the message was not serious and was a prank, hoax or a joke. Another defense was that there was no proven ability to carry out the threat. A frequently used defense is that the message as posted had not been posted or written by the defendant. In these days of frequent allegations of hacking and electronic meddling it can take a sophisticated investigation to actually prove that an accused individual was actually responsible for a threat message and it hadn’t been planted there maliciously by someone else. The other complication with these allegations is that someone’s social media site could be electronically tampered by someone anywhere in the world given the technical know how to do it. That makes prosecution actually quite difficult.
A written threat to kill or carry out serious bodily injury is a serious crime in Florida. You cannot risk losing your job, your freedom, or your future because of a crime you did not commit or because there is insufficient evidence that you committed it. Remember that you cannot be convicted of any crime unless prosecutors can prove your guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ Contact Albert Quirantes, Miami criminal defense attorney, as soon as possible, if arrested for carrying out a threat to kill or seriously injure anyone on a social media platform at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.