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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Teen's Conviction of Harassment for Facebook Post is Upheld

A Pennsylvania court recently upheld a teen's conviction for the crime of harassment after she appealed the jury verdict against her. Commonwealth v. Cox.  The 18 year old had posted a comment on her Facebook page that the 15 year old victim "has herpes, Ew, that's gross. She should stop spreading her legs like her mother." The post received several "likes" from Cox's friends before it was deleted. The victim's mother reported the post to police, and the 18 year old was charged with the crime of harassment, which makes it illegal to communicate "to or about such other person any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures" with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm the other person.  A jury found the teen guilty of harassment, and sentenced her to 6 months probation.
The teen appealed, and the appellate court upheld the conviction, finding that the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict and that the defense provided no evidence that the posting was for any other purpose than harassment of the victim.  “Contrary to Cox’s view and in light of the totality of the evidence, her misuse of the internet and social media was criminal,” the appellate court ruled.

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