Florida court rules threats on Facebook can be prosecuted

facebook  nwfdn
FILE PHOTO / Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 13:12 PM.

TALLAHASSEE — In an apparent first in Florida law, a state appeals court ruled Monday that posting threats on one’s personal Facebook page can be prosecuted under state law.

The 1st District Court of Appeal decided in a criminal case that a Facebook post could be considered a "sending" for the purposes of the "sending written threats to kill or do bodily harm" law, a second-degree felony.

The language at issue was in a status that the defendant, Timothy Ryan O’Leary, had posted on his Facebook page in 2011 about a female relative and her same-sex partner. The relative didn’t see it but found out about it through another family member.

O’Leary said, in part, that he would "tear the concrete up with your face and drag you back to your doorstep." He added, "(You) better watch how ... you talk to people. You were born a woman and you better stay one."

O’Leary argued he couldn’t be charged because he did not "send" the threatening language to his relative. A Duval County circuit judge denied his request to dismiss the charges.

After the state dropped one of two counts, O’Leary pleaded no contest to the remaining count. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of probation. The probation requirement was later reduced to two years.

O’Leary appealed, and a unanimous three-judge panel sided with the trial judge.



1 2
Next

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

COMMENTS
▲ Return to Top
 

Local Faves