Increasingly postings on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and others are coming under Law Enforcement scrutiny. In August of this year, a young Philadelphia man was arrested as a result of a Facebook posting where he is alleged to have urged his associates to quote “kill all rats”. The defendant was originally charged with Retaliation Against Witness/Victims, Intimidation of Witnesses/Victims, and Terroristic Threats. His bail was set at $250,000.00. Ultimately the defendant entered a guilty plea to the charge of retaliation against witnesses for which he received a sentence of 11 1/2-23 months to be followed by 5 years probation.
In another case arising out of Lebannon County, Pennsylvania, Commonwealth v. Cox, 2013 PA Super 221 (Aug 2, 2013) the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld the harassment conviction of a young woman who posted on her Facebook page that another young girl had herpes and that the other girl should “stop spreading her legs like her mother.” At the time of the posting the defendant was 18 years of age and the victim was 15 years of age. The case proceeded to a Jury Trial and the defendant was convicted. The Pennsylvania harassment statue 18 P.a. C.S. § 2709 (a)(4) states that a person commits the crime of harassment when with:
the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm the other person she communicates to or about such other person any lude, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings, or charactures. An intent to harass may be inferred from the totality of the circumstances.
Following her conviction, Cox claimed that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict. The superior court disagreed and upheld the conviction.
The advice is simple: Be sociable on social media or beware the consequences which can include arrest and incarceration. Should you have such a problem, call the Law Offices of Perry de Marco, Sr., We can help.