A Texas teen may have learned the hard way that words can be powerful. Now facing a felony charge for terroristic threats, he likely understands the power words can have, especially in a world of social media. Nevertheless, are words alone enough to constitute a crime?
Having been jailed since February on a $500,000 bond his family cannot pay, the Texas teen has been able to teach a valuable lesson to others, albeit a lesson for which he does not want to be the instructor. Making threatening comments, whether they have any merit, can lead to criminal charges and drastic consequences if — and only if — a conviction is ultimately secured. Threats are written online every day. What made these written words worthy of a felony charge?
Posting a comment on Facebook threatening violence toward a kindergarten may not have been the smartest thing he has done. He realizes the comment was inappropriate, and given there has been no proof he was going to follow his words with actions, his supporters feel that his bond and charge is excessive. Many feel this criminal charge does not match his claimed transgression.
Texas is not the only state to take postings on social media, such as these, seriously. Should this teen face years in prison for a comment posted to Facebook? Is there proof this teen was going to follow through with violence? Should every alleged threatening comment on social media sites be followed with an indictment on a felony charge? A judge and jury will have to decide if this teen should spend time in prison for what could simply have been a bad choice in words.
Source: CBS News, “Justin Carter, Texas teen, jailed since Feb. after making alleged Facebook threat,” July 4, 2013