Florida court rules threats on Facebook can be prosecuted

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 13:12 PM.

The panel’s opinion noted that O’Leary’s case passed the legal test of showing a violation of the law:

- A person "writes or composes a threat to kill or do bodily injury,"
- The person "sends or (arranges for) the sending of that communication to another person," and
- The "threat is to the recipient of the communication, or a member of his family."

"Given the mission of Facebook, there is no logical reason to post comments other than to communicate them to other Facebook users," the opinion said.

If O’Leary wanted "to put his thoughts into writing for his own personal contemplation, he could simply have recorded them in a private journal, diary, or any other medium that is not accessible by other people," it added.

"Thus, by the affirmative act of posting the threats on Facebook, even though it was on his own personal page, appellant ‘sent’ the threatening statements to all of his Facebook friends," including the family member of the victim who saw the threat.

That person told yet another relative, and that relative informed the victim.

The case is O’Leary v. State of Florida, 1D12-0975.

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