It is not often that a case of “written threats” presents itself in court, but it looks like a media case could lead to such charges being filed down the road. Earlier this week it was reported that Mia Khalifa, a 21-year old adult film actress, has been receiving death threats from individuals who are not pleased with her career choice. Khalifa, born in Lebanon, one of the more liberal Muslim countries in the region, moved with her family to the United States in 2000. After moving to Miami, FL at the age of 18, she began her career in the adult film industry. However, success in her field – currently PornHub’s highest ranked star – has also made her a target for anger and backlash from those in her native country and domestically. Amongst the angry and controversial feedback she receives on Twitter, where she has more than 100,000 followers, are a slew of messages that could constitute “threats” under Florida law. Among them are those that call for her beheading and other posts showing a digitally altered image depicting her as a prisoner of ISIS. But do these acts constitute a crime? Below is a brief explanation of the crime and what the statute means exactly.
Under Florida law, certain types of communication are considered criminal acts. Florida Statute 836.05 requires the prosecution to prove a number of elements under the physical threat portion of the crime, which is most applicable in Ms. Khalifa’s situation. If the person is charged, the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) the person either verbally or by a written communication (2) maliciously threatens injury to the person, property, or reputation of another (3) with the intent thereby to compel the person so threatened to do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will. Although it appears just by reading the statute that the acts of those threatening Ms. Khalifa would constitute this crime, it is very important if you are charged with this crime to contact a reputable, experienced criminal defense attorney in your area because there are a number of defenses that can be raised before and during trial. One of the most difficult elements for the prosecution to prove is that an individual is actually the sender or publisher of the literature that is alleged to be a “written threat.” This crime is a second degree felony in Florida and is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.
If you need an experienced lawyer in Miami, contact Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. to discuss your case. Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. founded by attorneys Julian Stroleny, Esq. and Christopher Pagan, Esq., represents clients in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier County, and throughout South Florida. Call us today at 305-615-1285 to schedule a free consultation or visit us online at www.pslaw.org.