Can a social media post be a crime?
The United States Supreme Court ruled that a social media post can literally be a crime scene. Prosecutors are aggressively pursuing internet crimes. It takes a savvy, experienced, and tenacious lawyer to turn the tables and get the advantage in court.
Free Speach, Social Media, and Criminal Charges
As far back as 1964, in the case of New York Times v Sullivan the United States Supreme Court addressed the issue of free speech and debate of public issues. The Court said, “We consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” The Justices of that time had no idea exactly how uninhibited expression would get with the advent of the Internet. The question facing courts today is whether a social media post can be a crime.
In December 2014, the current United States Supreme Court heard the case of Elonis v United States. This case involved a man convicted of posting things on Facebook that prosecutors treated as actual threats. Mr. Elonis was convicted and sentenced to 44 months in prison.
The United States Supreme Court has already been clear that the 1st Amendment does not permit the government to punish all threats made in the media or the “public square.” There must be actual threats and not just political rhetoric or vehement and caustic attacks. A genuine threat has been defined as “those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”
Elonis v United States is a hugely important case in this age of social media in that it will clarify what it means to communicate when speaking in terms of violence on the Internet, and also what constitutes intent to commit the crime of making an illegal threat in a social media post. Depending on the facts of a case, top criminal defense lawyers work to defend their clients based on facts and the law. In these cases, persuading a judge that a social media post is not a threat can be key to getting charges dismissed.
Your Mother Was Right – be careful what you post online.
Social media is fun and a great way to keep in touch with your family and friends. There is the ability to share everything you are involved in and your feelings about things going on in your life. However, there is a dark side to social media. Is this potentially dangerous? Yes. Posting too much information can result in being subjected to online predators. Posting party pictures or nude photographs can be hugely embarrassing or result in not getting, or losing, a job or custody of children, among other things. Can a social media post constitute a crime? At this point, there is no definitive answer. Your mother was right. If you think a posting is questionable – it probably can result in a criminal investigation, and you should perhaps not post it.
Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyers Who Routinely Defend Internet Related Criminal Allegations
LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are Michigan criminal defense lawyers that are specialists in internet-related criminal offenses. Criminal law is all our attorneys do. We appear in courtrooms all over Michigan, and our reputation for providing the highest level of criminal defense is well-known throughout Michigan. Criminal defense lawyers can come in varying degrees of experience. When you are faced with possible loss of freedom or lengthy probation, you need to have the best legal team available. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are well respected and get exceptional results for our clients.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.