Social Media Offences
With the recent surge of social media usage there has been a significant increase in the number of prosecutions for offences that occur on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, many making headline news.
Social media offences often fall under Section 127 Communications Act 2003 or Malicious Communications Act 1988. Being convicted under these acts the court can impose a sentence of imprisonment so it is therefore important you seek representation from an experienced firm of solicitors.
Section 127 Communications Act 2003
Improper use of public electronic communications network
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he—
- (a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
- (b) causes any such message or matter to be so sent.
(2)A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—
- (a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,
- (b) causes such a message to be sent; or
- (c) persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.
(4) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to anything done in the course of providing a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (c. 42)).
Malicious Communications Act 1988
Offence of sending letters etc. with intent to cause distress or anxiety.
(1)Any person who sends to another person—
- (a) a letter, electronic communication or article of any description] which conveys—
- (i) a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;
- (ii) a threat; or
- (iii) information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; or
- (b) any article or electronic communication which is, in whole or part, of an indecent or grossly offensive nature,
is guilty of an offence if his purpose, or one of his purposes, in sending it is that it should, so far as falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above, cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents or nature should be communicated.
(2) A person is not guilty of an offence by virtue of subsection (1)(a)(ii) above if he shows—
- (a) that the threat was used to reinforce a demand [F3made by him on reasonable grounds]; and
- (b) that he believed [and had reasonable grounds for believing,] that the use of the threat was a proper means of reinforcing the demand.
(2A) In this section "electronic communication" includes—
- (a) any oral or other communication by means of [an electronic communications network ] (c. 12)); and
- (b) any communication (however sent) that is in electronic form.
(3) In this section references to sending include references to delivering [or transmitting] and to causing to be sent [delivered or transmitted] and "sender" shall be construed accordingly.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to [imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both].
Free Advice AvailableIf you have been arrested, interviewed or are due in court then speak to a solicitor today for free advice on 0333 011 0515.
Although it may seem simple social media offences can be complex and range from posting offensive and threatening messages, cyber bullying and revenge porn.
For communications sent by social media that are capable of amounting to criminal offences, prosecutors must make an initial assessment of the content of the communication and the course of conduct in question to see if it falls into one of the following categories: –
Credible threats– A communications which may constitute credible threats of violence to the person or damage to property.
Targeting of specific individuals– Communications which specifically target an individual or individuals. The communication may also constitute as harassment or stalking within the meaning of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Such offences could be: -
- Harassment or Stalking
- Controlling or Coercive Behaviour
- Disclosing private sexual images without consent
Breach of court orders– Communications that may breach court orders such as restraining orders, breaches of bail and contempt of court.
Grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false communications– if the communication does not fall into any of the above categories then it may be considered separately. These type of cases however are subject to a high threshold and in many cases a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest.
Each case will be considered on its own merits but if you are facing charges under the Malicious Communications Act 1998 then our solicitors are available 24 hours, 7 days a week to provide representation and advice. Our services are available throughout England and Wales including Liverpool, Wirral, North West
Legal Advice and Representation
If you are being investigated, interviewed under caution or charged with an offence under the computer misuse act then you should call 0333 011 0515 immediately so that our solicitors can advise you on what you should do next.
Initial advice is always free and we are available 24 hours, 7 days a week to provide representation and specialist advice throughout England and Wales including Liverpool, Wirral, London and throughout North West.