Can a Facebook Post Get You Arrested?

Some people are surprised to learn that the First Amendment does not, in fact, allow them to say whatever they want with no legal repercussions. A Georgia woman was recently arrested for posting threats to Facebook, and she’s not the first to learn the hard way that what she types can be used against her.

Last year, a Pennsylvania man was convicted on four counts of threats and sentenced to 44 months in prison based on several threatening and violent Facebook posts he made regarding his estranged wife. He is currently challenging his conviction in the Supreme Court, citing his First Amendment rights.

The judge in the aforementioned case gave the following instructions to the jury regarding “true threats”:

A statement is a true threat when a defendant intentionally makes a statement in a context or under such circumstances wherein a reasonable person would foresee that the statement would be interpreted by those to whom the maker communicates the statement as a serious expression of an intention to inflict bodily injury or take the life of an individual.

The First Amendment is not without limits, so think before you post. When it comes to free speech, “fighting words, obscenity, child pornography, misleading commercial speech, cyberbullying, and true threats are not protected.”

Sources: ABA Journal, CNN, FindLaw