The Supreme Court will decide what constitutes a “real threat” in the Internet age

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will consider a challenge to what is considered a “genuine threat” in the Internet age in a case where a man wants to overturn his criminal conviction for stalking under Colorado law because of his social media posts.

Billy Raymond Counterman arguing him messages sent via Facebook to the Colorado musician are protected by the First Amendment and should not be considered a “true threat.”

His cause a lawsuit him a conviction under Colorado’s stalking law, which prohibits someone from knowingly — and repeatedly — following or contacting another person “in a manner likely to cause a reasonable person serious emotional distress.” He was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment.

His Different federal district and state courts have analyzed threats differently, with some judges weighing how a reasonable person would interpret the message, while other jurisdictions weighed the speaker’s intent when deciding whether speech is protected, lawyers said.

“These state-federal conflicts are particularly problematic because they mean that the constitutional rights of speakers depend on the courthouse in which they are prosecuted.” him lawyers said in a statement.

They called court review the controversy and provide guidance to all courts on how to interpret the First Amendment and what constitutes a genuine threat.

The case arose when Counterman sent a message to a Colorado musician via social media in 2014. She did not respond to any of the messages.

Some of them read: “Five years on Facebook. Just a few physical observations”, “Was that you in the white jeep?”, “You are not good at human relations. Die. You don’t need it.”

She later contacted police in 2016 after reporting the frightening messages to a family member her. She obtained a protective order.

Kanterman, however, was arrested for him messages and only then was informed of the protective order.

At least four judges are required to vote for reconsideration him a legal battle.

Colorado State, however, called court not pursue the case, arguing in his filing that Counterman admitted to stalking the music.

“This is a case of stalking and the steps taken by the Colorado General Assembly necessary to protect victims from the harassing, threatening and escalating conduct typical of stalking,” the state argued in its brief.

The case is Counterman vs. Colorado.

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