Social media has made an impact on the daily lives of millions across the country. Just as social media has the power to connect people, it also has the ability to create significant legal trouble if users aren’t careful. What may be considered free expression or a joke to some can be misconstrued by law enforcement as a serious criminal offense.
A 26-year-old South Carolina man found this out the hard way when he and another person were charged for allegedly threatening a judge and prosecutor in a video they posted to the Internet. The threat was said to be contained in the lyrics of a rap song the men recorded. However, the 26 year old and his attorney were able to present a defense that led to a not guilty verdict.
Both men were convicted on drug charges in 2011, and the prosecutor and judge mentioned in the video were involved in their cases. The 26-year-old man’s criminal defense team indicated that the lyrics in the song were purely metaphorical, so he never intended to harm the judge or prosecutor. After hearing the arguments presented in court, the jury acquitted the man after five hours of deliberation.
On an interesting note, the other man in the video was convicted on similar charges and sentenced to spend time behind bars. This raises the question: What was different about his case? In the wake of the recent not guilty verdict, it may be worthwhile for the convicted man to explore his legal options.
Moreover, this case shows how careful people must be about the things they put on the Internet. One thoughtless tweet or Facebook status could create a whole host of legal trouble.
Source: The Associated Press, “SC man found not guilty of threats in rap video,” Sept. 20, 2013