Man gets six months of jail time after threatening President Obama on Twitter

Obama with the finger warning

We’ve heard plenty of stories about folks getting themselves into hot water thanks to a poor social network post. Nothing quite like this next story, however.

22-year old Donte Jamar Sims was sentenced Wednesday to six months in prison for threatening Barack Obama in a slew of tweets. Mind you, he threatened the President in a series of numerous tweets so it was an ongoing issue.

Sims was originally arrested in September of last year for the incident. He talked about assassinating the President via his Twitter handle @DestroyLeague_D, and the authorities confirmed the account belonged to him with the help of search warrants. You can still find his tweets online, one of which has been embed below:

The Charlotte Observer reports that Sims pleaded guilty in an attempt to avoid jail time, but unfortunately for him the judge rejected the plea offer and slapped him with some real time in the slammer.

It’s actually not all that uncommon to see death threats on Twitter, especially targeting the President. During the Presidential election, the Secret Service asked many Twitter users to report any death threats or suspicious activity encountered on the platform.

There’s a lesson to be learned here somewhere, I’m quite sure of it. While it is a little disturbing to see someone prosecuted for comments made on a social media platform you have to remember that the related information is public. That means, everyone can see the comments or in this case the death threats. If you were to make a threat about someone and they happened to see the post, well it’s safe to say that could certainly cause some harm to all parties involved.

I know many of you are going to make a comment about how obvious a lot of this is, but apparently it has to be said. Have you ever encountered a situation where someone made threats via social media?

[via Mashable]

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12 comments

  1. JMJ

    In most, if not all, jurisdictions in the United States, it’s a criminal offense to threaten bodily harm to anyone. It’s even criminal to threaten financial or emotional or reputational harm. Most times, such threats are made privately so there is no deep investigation or resulting prosecution. This guy is an idiot… twice: Once for making such threats and, Twice for doing so provably.

    @Briley Kenney : You should watch what you say about people… period, if only as a matter of moral and personal character. Even for those whose morality and character are lacking, you never know who might be listening: Witness Mitt Romney’s “private” remarks that he thought were being shared only with like-minded *sociopaths*.

    @Tom – Am I correct that the “tyrants” to whom you refer are those who are so weak and pathetic and impotent in the Real World that they pitifully resort to using the Internet as a medium cowardly to hide while spewing hate, intolerance and stupidity or were you referring to some others?

    @Seamus McSeamus – I got impatient and snarky when an airport security person asked me to remove a telephoto lens from a camera so that she could look through it for whatever. In “jest” I asked if she thought I was hiding a bomb. She and her supervisor and other people with shiny badges did not think I was funny at all.

    @OhYES – Oh, yes!

  2. James

    I learned when I was a teenager (during the Reagan years) that death threats against the President are always taken very seriously and prosecuted. I don’t think they all get jail time, but that’s really up to the judge presiding over the case. (So before anyone talks about Obama being power-crazy, note that prosecutors in this case, presumably Jusitce Department officials, offered the guy a deal to avoid prison time, but the judge took a look at the particular facts and the individual involved and decided that the probation or house arrest or whatever else they had offered him was not enough.

    We lost John F. Kennedy to a gunman; we nearly lost Ronald Reagan to one. These guys control our nuclear arsenal; do you really want to joke around about killing them? When suspected terrorists, including British and American citizens, are being tossed into prison at Guantonamo on Cuba for a dozen years with no trial and almost no US judicial review at all, just how stupid ARE you?

  3. Briley Kenney
    Author/

    I don’t particularly like the guy myself but come on, a lot of people need to learn some tact. It’s common knowledge that you should watch what you say about others while you’re in public, let alone via a social network with an audience in the millions.

  4. Seamus McSeamus

    It’s asking for trouble to threaten the President, I don’t care which party he is from. You may as well poke a hornet’s nest with your finger and act surprised when you are stung. It’s really going to attract scrutiny when you do it on THE INTERNET. The written word is difficult to interpret, so even if you make threats in jest, it’s probably not going to come off that way. Think before you hit the send button.

  5. Coyote

    Threats via social media are a double edged sword. On one hand you think you’re anonymous or at least have a thick layer of protection between the internet and real life. And for the most part this is true, the braying of the internet hoard is sure to drown out most noise. But on the edged side you’re also speaking directly to millions of people, some of which do pay attention. Much like the guy who committed murder and confessed on reddit, you are not protected, your identity will be found, and stupid comments can be considered the same as yelling at the top of your lungs at a busy intersection.