By Melony Roy
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – At what point do statements made on social sites like Facebook cross the threshold from free speech to criminal threat? The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a Lehigh Valley man convicted of making threatening statements online should have avoided prosecution.
Anthony Elonis was sentenced to four years in federal prison for posting violent rants on social media against his estranged wife, co-workers, and law enforcement officers.
“The standard to date which is generally the objective standard meaning would the reasonable person interpret this as threatening whether that satisfying or whether that is the way to move forward in engaging harassing and threatening communication,” Drexel University criminal justice professor Rob D’Ovidio said.
A federal appeals court rejected Elonis’ claim that his comments were protected by the first amendment.
“What the defense is saying here if you look into the mind of my client, you’ll realize my client had no intent, he was speaking out of mere frustration”
The supreme court says it will consider whether a conviction of threatening another person under federal law requires proof of the defendant’s subjective intent to threaten.