If you didn’t know, making a threat on social media towards another person might land you in jail. It doesn’t matter if it’s words only, a drawing, or a video—it’s transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. People seem to forget or maybe don’t think about everything shared on the internet has the potential to circle the globe, and once it crosses state lines (in the USA), if it’s illegal, it becomes a federal crime.
The former U.S. Army Sergeant’s defense attorney said,
“He let his words overcome his brains.”
The threatening video targeted a county judge. A few days after the posting, the man had a court date with the judge to discuss the man’s visitation rights. His ex-wife had custody of their daughter.
A relative made a copy of the video and shared it with local law enforcement. They arrested him and he went to trial. A jury found the man guilty, and a judge sentenced him to 18 months in prison.
Later, a judge vacated his conviction and ordered a new trial because of a Supreme Court ruling, stating the prosecutor must prove a defendant intended to convey a true threat.
A few years later, FBI agent’s arrested him for posting threats on social media to kill everyone in his hometown on Thanksgiving. The FBI charged him (again) with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.
In the social media post, he claimed to have a bomb and said,
“Everyone in [hometown] will die on Thanksgiving.”
His attorneys challenged the second charge for the same reasons the judge vacated the first conviction.
The troubled ex-soldier agreed to a plea deal that…
· Sent him to prison for one-year.
· Gave him three years of supervised release.
· Required him to drop his First Amendment challenge on the first case.
· Prohibited him from using social media for one-year after his release.
· Monitored use of social media for the remaining two years of supervision.
In return, the prosecution dropped his previous charge. They also ordered him to take medication for PTSD. The military had diagnosed him and prescribed medication, but he often self-medicated with alcohol.
If you know anyone currently serving in the military or no longer serving who is alone during the holidays, reach out and invite them to join you. They served for us, it’s the least we can do for them.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. District Court, Popular Military, Knox News,