Supreme Court Tosses Facebook Threat Conviction

The Supreme Court reversed a conviction of a man making threats on Facebook, directing the lower court to show a stronger measure of intent in order to convict.
3:28 | 06/01/15

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Transcript for Supreme Court Tosses Facebook Threat Conviction
The Supreme Court today striking down the conviction of a man making threats on FaceBook. A lower court found the defendant Anthony alone it meet threatening posts in the form of rap lyrics targeting his ex wife a kindergarten class and law enforcement. Alone as claimed he was only asserting his right to free speech. Hi everyone I'm Caroline Costello in New York joining me now at ABC news legal contributor. Kate Shaw. Kate thank you for being with us let's just talk about the basis for the original conviction and insolent us. Choice although this and his wife but seven years separate you leave she takes her two children. And it sounds like he's her descend into this downward spiral and he took among other things to posting. Rap lyrics he's an aspiring rapper on FaceBook among other places on some of them are pretty violent and graphic in nature against that he sent his ex wife. Law enforcement and then sort of unnamed children in kindergarten class. And law enforcement got involved or people were nervous about these threats law enforcement upright and he was eventually. Charged with filing federal criminal statute against making threats on line. And sentenced to three and half years in federal prison OK so. Bring us to today what is the explanation of the supreme court for reversing the success. So does the jury was instructed in the case that if a reasonable person might have feared might have felt threatened. By the content of the lyrics that the defendant posted. That was enough to give rise to criminal liability. And he argued in the lower court and an intermediate Court of Appeals and then in the Supreme Court that the government needed to show more needed to show that he essentially intended. To create this fear and since the government hadn't done that below. He argued that he was entitled to a new trial. Okay and the Supreme Court today saying that that wasn't enough. Right so basically they begin go quite as far as he want he want them to say you have to prove that I intended to cause this fear and intended to Ted to make this threat. And they said well looking joust at what the victim might have reasonably felt isn't enough but he didn't quite see what needed to be established so. One of the dissenting opinion says. Neither criminal defendants nor prosecutors nor lower courts. But meeting or anybody odxa posting messages on FaceBook really knows what prosecutors going to be going forward so there is some question. But what is clear is that something more then be out perspective but just the victim in the case like this have to be proof an outcry. Let's talk about free speech first amendment rights advocates for looking at this case very intrigued by it thinking that this was going to be a free speech case but. The Supreme Court didn't really A drafts first amendment rights in their decision why not. Richard that's exactly right there's no actual First Amendment holding in general if a court can resolve the case. On non constitutional grounds then it will do that. The first met it sort of works in the background ray because it's a case about speech in this for consequence of speech. But I think the court probably thought there were hard First Amendment questions here and kind of happy to take an offer at its pursuit well we'll with the statute requires it requires something more than a lower court thought. And so we'll send it back for another shot without really directly addressing First Amendment issue up ABC's Kate shot thank you so much for joining us appreciate it. And you can keep up with the story in real time. I asked during the ABC news out starring this story perks with nothing on the island Caroline could sell out. In New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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