Criminal Defense for Threats of Bodily Harm Using Electronic Technology

Digital threats

   Digital messages such as social media posts, texts, and e-mails have taken center stage as the way our society communicates. However, what starts as a comment or post, especially during tumultuous political times, can quickly become a debate or a heated argument. Digital messages are prone to misinterpretation, as communication is comprised of more than words. An emoji is used to convey mood and thought. However, they are not a reliable substitution for tone, emotion, and body language. The posting of rap music lyrics is often interpreted as a threat of violence due to its aggressive content. An impulsive comment, or what started as a joke or prank, can result in a criminal charge with long-term consequences. The AP Law Group has over 55 years of combined experience handling criminal defense matters in Florida. If you require criminal defense representation, do not hesitate to contact us. 

 Posting Threats has Harsh Legal Consequences.

Despite our first amendment right to free speech, some laws prohibit calls to violence using speech such as threatening messages. Violent messages towards individuals, mass threats, and terrorism threats are taken very seriously and have very harsh penalties. Threats can have significant emotional consequences for victims and are disruptive to the community.

   Florida Statue 836.10 addresses the crime of written threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. 

Written threats may be signed or anonymous, and are punishable as a second-degree felony. If convicted, the penalty is up to fifteen years in prison, fifteen years’ probation, and a $10,000 fine. The statute advises that there is no liability for the hosting provider of computer service or mobile service, which transmits the messages. This statute encompasses threats of individuals, mass shootings, or acts of terrorism.

   In a court of law, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant composed a written threat to kill or do bodily injury to another by an inscribed or electronic message. There are many cases of threatening messages in domestic violence cases.

  Examples of Recent Cases of Threats of Mass Shootings or Acts of Terrorism are:

  • A former Lantana, Florida high school student, was arrested after posting on Instagram his alleged intention of a mass shooting at Santaluces Community High School on February 3, 2020.
  • In Port Charlotte, Florida, an arrest was made of a man allegedly making threats via Youtube of a mass killing on April 7., 2020.
  • A University of Florida college student sent e-mails about a planned mass shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and was indicted on 5/12/2020.
  • In Hillsborough County, Florida, there was an arrest of a person on 7/6/2020. The defendant allegedly made online threats to shoot Black Lives Matters protestors.

First Amendment Rights

   Threats are defined as whether a reasonable person would interpret the communication as a serious expression to kill or inflict bodily harm. 

A defendant can be convicted of a felony even if they do not have the intent or the capability to carry out the crime. Threats are outside of the First Amendment Rights protection, as they are intended to incite lawlessness and lawless actions. The Constitutional right of free speech does not include threats towards individuals, mass shootings, or acts of terrorism.

The AP Law Group is Ocala and Gainesville’s Trusted Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you are being investigated or arrested for the alleged crime of written threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct an act of terrorism, speak with our experienced criminal defense attorneys. The AP Law Group is a seasoned team of criminal defense attorneys and fierce negotiators with proven results. Our attorneys are skilled in defending clients for all digital crimes, including stalking and cybercrimes in state and federal courts of law. We will vigorously defend your rights and your reputation. Attorneys Alavi and Pozzuto will help you navigate the legal system and find legal solutions through creative strategies that work.

The AP Law Group has offices in Gainesville and Ocala, Florida. We represent clients in Gainesville, Ocala, and the surrounding counties. Contact us at 352-732-9191 to speak with an attorney that can protect your future.