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Local Man's Challenge to Criminal Conviction on Free Speech Defense to be Heard by US Supreme Court

These blogs are posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether Anthony Elonis of Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, was merely expressing his first amendment constitutional right to free speech when he posted violent and threatening language on Facebook and other electronic media. Elonis, a former Dorney Park employee, was sentenced to four years in prison as a result of threatening violence against his estranged wife, co-workers, and school children by posting comments online on Facebook.

The US Supreme Court, at Elonis v. United States, 13-983, will consider whether Elonis's conviction of threatening another person under federal law "requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten."

It has long been held that "true threats" are not protected speech under the First Amendment. The Court's analysis of this issue will be interesting given the increased use by people of all ages of electronic devices and social media sites.

News media source: http://www.wfmz.com/news/news-regional-lehighvalley/supreme-court-taking-up-case-over-lv-mans-facebook-rant/26510274, "Supreme Court taking up case over LV man's Facebook rant", June 16, 2014

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