Fla. appeals court rules threats posted on Facebook are crimes

Florida court rules posting threats on personal Facebook can be prosecuted

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A state appeals court ruled that posting threats on someone's Facebook page or on your own Facebook page can lead to prosecution under state law.

On Monday, Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal ruled in a criminal case that a Facebook post could be considered a threat to kill or harm someone or something is classified as a second-degree felony.

The language at issue was in a status that the defendant, Timothy Ryan O'Leary, had posted on his Facebook page in 2011 about a female relative and her same-sex partner. The relative didn't see it but found out about it through another family member.

O'Leary said that he would "tear the concrete up with your face and drag you back to your doorstep." He added, "(You) better watch how ... you talk to people. You were born a woman and you better stay one." 

According to the Associated Press, O'Leary argued he couldn't be charged because he did not "send" the threatening language to his relative. A Duval County circuit judge denied his request to dismiss the charges.

After the state dropped one of two counts, O'Leary pleaded no contest to the remaining count. O'Leary was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of probation. The probation requirement was later reduced to two years.

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