Social Media Posts Can Literally be a Crime Scene
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 back ground 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.
In December, 2014, the current United States Supreme Court heard the case of Elonis v United States. This case involved a man who was 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 true threats, and not just political rhetoric or vehement and caustic attacks. A true 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 constitute intent to commit the crime of making an illegal threat.
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 pretty much everything that you do, feel and are involved in. However, there is a dark side to social media. Is this potentially dangerous? Yes. Posting to 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 it result in criminal charges? At this point there is no definitive answer. Your mother was right. If you think a posting is of a questionable nature – it probably is and do not post it.
Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyers who specialize in internet related criminal offenses
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 courtroom all over Michigan. Criminal defense lawyers can come in varying levels 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. Please contact us at (248) 263-6800 with any questions you may have. We look forward to helping you.