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Are Online Threats to Others a Crime?

Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo

The ability to communicate one’s thoughts and share them with others is easy in this day and age, where there are several social media platforms, commenting on articles is prevalent, and text messages tend to be a preferred way to talk to one another. However, when communications become threatening or are deemed to be harassment, then such speech may criminally violate the law.

Suppose you are facing criminal charges for things that you said to others online. In that case, it is imperative that you quickly get in touch with a California criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo. Online threats and harassment are taken very seriously in California, and if you are convicted of these crimes, you may have to pay high fines and even spend time behind bars. 

Written Speech Online That Treatens Can be a Criminal Act

In America, we have First Amendment rights. Meaning we have freedom of speech to speak our minds and our opinions. But, freedom of speech in America is not absolute. There are legal exceptions to our First Amendment right, which carve out certain types of speech as unlawful. These would be hate speech, defamation, violent threats, and inciting violence.

It is likely that even if you have never posted anything online yourself, you have undoubtedly seen chat rooms, comment sections, and social media, all of which can be highly toxic if you take the time to read what is posted. While one may think that they are shielded from legal repercussions when they post hateful and threatening content online, the opposite is true. It is possible for a poster of violent or hateful commentary to be held criminally liable for their actions.

California PC 422 defines criminal threats. The law explains that threats of causing someone harm or killing them cover both verbal threats and written threats as well. So, if you send a text message, email, or post online where the victim of such abusive commentary believes your words are genuine, the charge of criminal threats could follow. Likewise, if a victim is being repeatedly sent threatening and harassing messages, then there is also the risk of being charged with cyberstalking.

The bottom line is: be careful of what you post online. It is not hard to get into a heated conversation online on any topic, from a sports game to politics or religion, that can quickly become violent and threatening. The First Amendment does not protect this type of speech. And it may only take just one intimidating or threatening remark to result in criminal charges being levied.

Speak to a California Criminal Defense Attorney Today

You may not have actually meant to scare another person with the words you posted online, but if they believed they were in danger because of your threatening comments towards them, you may find yourself in legal trouble.

In this situation, you need effective criminal defense services. Please call our Orange County criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo at (714) 547-4636 to schedule a free consultation.

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