Orlando & Miami Criminal Lawyer
call for a free
consultation

Is an Online Threat Protected by the First Amendment?

CrimLaw3

On December 22, a man was arrested for making online threats against then President-Elect, Donald Trump. 59-year-old Kevin Keith Krohn of Broward County posted the following message to Facebook: “I’m just glad Obama didn’t take all our gunz! I see a good use for one now. He’s not my president. He’s an enemy of the state.” Krohn posted the message on a thread related to Trump’s holiday vacation at his Palm Beach home. Further down in the thread, Krohn posted a picture of a man in camouflage holding a sniper rifle with the caption, “The EXPEDITER of Trump! He will never last long!” When another Facebook user asked Krohn what he meant by his comment, Krohn replied, “Keep yer eyes open!”

When the authorities showed up to Krohn’s home on Thursday evening and inquired about the threats, Krohn became confrontational and declared that his statements were an expression of his First Amendment rights. What Krohn did not realize is that threats against the President and successors to the Presidency are a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 871, and are subject to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Krohn will be given a chance to defend himself, but seeing as he clearly violated the law, he will likely be found guilty of threatening the then President-Elect.

Online Threats Against Non-Government Officials

Threatening a government official is one thing, but what if the online threats are intended for another civilian? One case that drew widespread attention was Elonis v. United States, 13-983. Anthony Elonis posted a series of graphically violent rap lyrics on Facebook about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a kindergarten class, and attacking an FBI agent. When his wife reported him, he was convicted of a federal law that makes it a crime to threaten another person. However, Elonis’s case sparked the question: did Elonis’s posts, and do others like it, deserve protection under the First Amendment? Elonis believes they do.

According to Elonis, his Facebook posts were simply a crude way of expressing his emotions, and that they could not be considered a true threat because he did not really mean it. The court, on the other hand, claimed that what a person intends does not matter; what matters is how the threat is perceived by an objective party. Though there are advocates that claim that “A statute that proscribes speech without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is crudely or zealously expressed,” the Supreme Court has held, and will continue to uphold, their ruling that “true threats” are not protected under the First Amendment.

Elonis was arrested for the verbal attacks against his wife, and several others against other individuals, and sentenced to four years in federal prison.

An Orlando Criminal Lawyer Provides Strong Defense Against Charges of Online Threats

If you have recently been charged with making threats to another individual via Facebook, Twitter, Email, or any other online channel, it would be in your best interest to hire an Orlando criminal defense lawyer right away. Contact the legal professionals at The Baez Law Firm to see how we can help you build a case against online threat charges brought against you. Call 800-588-BAEZ to schedule a free consultation today.

Resources:

sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-donald-trump-facebook-threat-20161223-story.html

eff.org/files/2015/06/01/elonis_scotus_opinion.pdf

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
Miami Office

Miami Office

40 SW 13th St, Suite 901
Miami, FL 33130
Office: 305-999-5100
Fax: 305-999-5111
Orlando Office

Orlando Office

23 South Osceola Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
Office: 407-705-2626
Fax: 407-705-2625
Miami Office

Boston Office

6 Beacon Street, Suite 510
Boston, MA 02108
Office: 800-588-BAEZ
Orlando Office

Massachusetts Office

66 North 2nd Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Office: 800-588-BAEZ

Email Us

Fields Marked * Are required

Captcha Image

DISCLAIMER: Completing and submitting this form or otherwise merely contacting The Baez Law Firm or any individual at the firm will not establish an attorney/client relationship. Our firm cannot represent you until we determine that there would be no conflict of interest and that we are otherwise able to accept representation of your case. Please do not send any information or documents until a formal attorney/client relationship has been established through an interview with an attorney and you have been given authorization in the form of an engagement letter with The Baez Law Firm. Any information or documents sent via this form or otherwise prior to your receipt of an engagement letter will not be treated as confidences, secrets, or protected information of any nature. Submitting information regarding your potential case will not bar The Baez Law Firm from representing or continuing to represent a person or entity whose interest are adverse to your in condition with your case.

DISCLAIMER: This website contains information about The Baez Law Firm that includes testimonial statements from persons who are familiar with the firm's services. The testimonials shown are not necessarily representative of every person's experience with us. Testimonials from every client are not provided. As no two situations or persons are identical, the facts and circumstances of your situation may differ from those for which testimonials are shown. This website also includes information about some of the past results that we have obtained for our clients. Not all results are provided, and the results shown are not necessarily representative of all results obtained by us. No two situation are exactly alike; every person's situation is unique and the outcome for each person depends on the individual facts.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2015 - 2017 Baez Law Firm. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab