Keep Calm and Understand Elonis v. U.S.

The decision of Elonis v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2001 (2015), in which the United States Supreme Court reversed the defendant’s conviction for posting on Facebook threats to harm his wife and others, has caused a good deal of concern among prosecutors, civil attorneys representing victims in protective order proceedings, law enforcement, and advocates. This article analyzes the Court’s opinion, breaks down its meaning for the investigation and prosecution of cases involving online threats and stalking, and explains why the Elonis decision is not cause for alarm. The article suggests strategies for charging and presenting evidence in cases involving threats or stalking on public forums, such as Facebook, to maximize the likelihood of a conviction that will stand up on appeal.