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Man convicted over ‘threatening’ messages on Facebook has conviction overturned

The conviction of a man sentenced to 44 months in prison over alleged threatening Facebook posts has been overturned by the Supreme Court.

06/02/2015 // JusticeNewsFlash // (press release)

Washington – The Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a man who was charged in connection with making threatening posts on Facebook. The Slate reports that the man, Anthony Elonis, who had been sentenced to 44 months in prison and an additional three years probation for making the posts, made graphic violent statements that were allegedly threats directed at his former wife, children, co-workers, and others.

One of the posts read, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you.” Elonis claims the posts were not intended as threats and were inspired by the lyric writing style of rapper Eminem. Jurors at his trial had been instructed to find Elonis guilty if the statements would be interpreted as a serious expression that he intended harm by a “reasonable person.”

The Supreme Court determined that there were errors in instructions to jurors, stating it was not enough to base the conviction on whether a reasonable person would find the statements threatening, and that there must be evidence of intent.

The decision of the High Court sends the case back to the lower court.

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