When is an online post a threat?

This week the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Elonis v. United States. The issue before the high court is what level of intent does the prosecution have to show in order to convict someone of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). Must the prosecution demonstrate that the defendant intended to cause fear? Or must the prosecution show that a reasonable person would regard the statement as threatening?   The case involves Facebook posts a husband made to his wife, who recently left him. His posts detailed ways to kill her. To access the case’s Supreme Court docket, transcript, and the amicus briefs, read the SCOTUS blog posting.

To learn more about free speech and/or how it intersects with criminal law, consult the library resources highlighted below.