Twitter posts are protected as free speech in some instances, according to one federal judge. After being indicted for cyber stalking, the defendant is now seeking release because the case against him has been dismissed.
It all started in 2007 when the two parties to the case became friends. However, the friendship between a female Buddhist leader and her male associate did not last. They had a falling out and the man began to publish disparaging tweets about the woman, who was the subject of a book published in 2000, which, the judge felt, made her a "public figure." After an FBI investigation, the man was indicted and jailed on interstate stalking charges based on a part of the Violence Against Women Act.
The federal judge ruled that the Twitter rants are protected, even though the content may be uncomfortable and challenge the religious beliefs of some. At the heart of the ruling is that the 8,000 tweets did not rise to the level of a true threat, even though several tweets wished death upon her. The woman's attorney told The New York times that her client was appalled and frightened after the ruling.
Internet crimes like cyber stalking and cyber bullying are new areas of the law that must grow with the various social networking mediums. The laws that are in place can lead to serious consequences for those convicted of running afoul of them. Defendants accused of internet crime may want to consider an attorney who is knowledgeable about all laws related to the first amendment, and is able to apply this knowledge to the case.
Source: CNN, "Judge rejects Twitter cyberstalking case," Todd Wasserman, Dec. 16, 2014