Social medial has taken over. Now almost everyone is on these sites. Even professionals are getting involved. Doctors, lawyers, movie stars, sport athletes, the list goes on and on. For the first time, people are connected at all times. And it should be no surprise to anyone that when people are so connected, issues are bound to arise.
The issue with Facebook and Myspace is that you can post messages on each other’s pages. Depending on the user, these messages can be viewed by only certain people, or by the public. One of the major problems is when people start posting horrible messages to one another.
So the real question is when can these messages be qualified as a threat? When can a person be charged for posting a message on Facebook or Myspace? When can a person try to file charges on someone who they think is threatening them on Facebook and Myspace?
The question is one that I get frequently, but the answer is harder to come by. In order to convict someone of threat to commit a crime, the prosecutor needs to prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt.
• First, the person communicated to the alleged victim an intent to injure his/her person or property, now or in the future.
• Second, the injury that was threatened, if carried about, would constitute a crime.
• Third, the person made the threat under circumstances which could reasonably have caused the alleged victim to fear that the person had both the intention and the ability to carry out the threat.
In terms of the messages, the DA may consider the type of messages that are posted and the amount of messages that are posted. Also, the prosecutor needs to prove that the person being charged is the person who actually posted the message. This may be more difficult than you think because the fact that a message comes from a particular Myspace or Facebook account doesn’t necessarily prove that he or she posted the message. People have their accounts hacked or may let other people use their accounts and this situation can be argued by the defense.
To substantiate that the person being charged is indeed the person who sent the message; the DA may look to other evidence. If the DA can find a motive for the person to be sending threatening messages, then their case may become a lot stronger.
There is no real answer to the question of when you can be charged with a crime of threatening for posting a message on a social media site. It really depends on the circumstances. What evidence can be used to support the threat? This largely is determined on a case by case basis. However, a good rule is to not threatened anyone, and definitely don’t post those threats online.
Computer Twitter Picture
For more information about this post: Teen charged with posting threat on Facebook http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/03/student-charged-in-facebook-threats.html
Man on $1 million dollar bail for Facebook threats http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/091409_Man_Facebook_Threats
Man pleads guilty to racial threat using fake Facebook account http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/08/13/facebook.racial.threat/index.html
Woman sued over Myspace threats http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/04/ricobene-myspace-lawsuit-jpmorgan.html
Man Arrested for Myspace threats http://howtosplitanatom.com/news/miami-man-arrested-for-myspace-threat/
For more information: visit www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902