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PA Facebook Case Reversed by United States Supreme Court

Posted On: June 12, 2015 by Marc Neff

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 7-2 decision, to reverse the conviction in the case of Elonis v. United States. The Supreme Court held requiring negligence with respect to the communication of a threat is not sufficient to constitute the crime of 18 U.S.C. §875(c) communication of threats.
At issue was the prosecution of a Pennsylvania man who was arrested and prosecuted under a law that makes it a crime to threaten another person, after using Facebook to post rap lyrics about killing his estranged wife. According to the court’s ruling, it was not necessary to reach First Amendment issues in reversing Elonis’ conviction.
The Court ultimately held that the reasonable person standard is “inconsistent with the conventional requirement for criminal conduct awareness of some wrongdoing.”
Without touching on the First Amendment, the Supreme Court determined that it was not enough to just show that a reasonable person would feel threatened; the prosecution would need to show more. The Supreme Court however, did not establish what “more” needs to be shown. This is just the beginning in determining a test for prosecution in a social media driven world.
All persons charged with crimes are entitled to the protections afforded by the United States Constitution and the rules of evidence in a criminal court of law. An experienced criminal defense attorney helps to ensure that a defendant’s rights are protected before, during and after a trial. If you have been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately. For a confidential consultation, contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff at (215) 563-9800 or via email at marc@nefflawoffices.com.

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