Thursday, April 17, 2014

Can You Be Arrested For A Tweet?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
Yes, if it is a criminal threat you sure can be arrested. Recently, a 14 year old Dutch girl was arrested for sending a twitter message directed at American Airlines.

The tweet sounded like a terrorist threat against American Airlines. The tweet directed at American Airlines said "Hello. My name's Ibrahim and I'm from Afghanistan. I'm part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I'm going to do something really big bye."

The girl's Twitter account identifies her as Sarah, with the Twitter handle @QueenDemetraix. Her account has been suspended but her earlier tweets have generated lots of Internet discussion. American Airlines responded Sunday, saying "Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI."

She followed the original message with one saying she was "kidding" and "I'm so sorry I'm scared now."

The crime of Criminal Threats can be a misdemeanor, or a felony crime. In order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecutor must prove the following four facts:
  1. You willfully threatened to kill or seriously injure another person;
  2. you intended your verbal, written or electronically communicated statement to be received as a threat;
  3. the threat on its face and under the circumstances was so "unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific" that it conveyed an immediate possibility of execution;
  4. and that the threatened individual reasonably feared for his/her safety or for the safety of his/her immediate family. 
There are many potential defenses for the crime of Criminal Threats: the threat was too vague and ambiguous, the victim was not in any fear, any fear the victim may have had was unreasonable, there was no “sustained” fear on behalf of the victim, the threat is protected by free speech, or the threat was not immediate. The prosecutor must prove every element in order for a person to be convicted of this crime. Apologizing after the fact does diminish the criminal threat.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime contact the Orange County California   Law Office of Katie Walsh at 714 619-9355 or Katie@katiewalshlaw.com
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