With so much communication done online and digitally now, it can be too easy for some people to write things that they wouldn't say face-to-face. However, words that can be reasonably construed as threatening can have consequences. So can emojis -- those symbols that are becoming a staple of online communication.
Positive emojis like smiling, laughing or winking faces can help soften a negative thought or let the reader know that you're just kidding. However, other emojis can get you in trouble and even legal jeopardy.
One teen learned that the hard way. He posted a message on Facebook with an emoji of a police officer and three gun emojis pointed at it. He was arrested a few days later for making terroristic threats. Police also allegedly found marijuana and a weapon in his home, which brought additional charges.
In another case that's made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a man accused of threatening his wife via Facebook is arguing that the threat clearly wasn't serious because he included a smiley face.
Obviously, there's generally more required for criminal charges than an emoji. However, it's important to remember that, just like any type of written communication, symbols can be used against you by law enforcement and prosecutors if they're reasonably perceived to be threatening.
If you or a loved one are facing charges of making threats by e-mail, text or social media, it's essential that you take the matter seriously. Even if you considered the communication a joke or it was written in the heat of the moment, it can have very real consequences. An experienced Kentucky criminal defense attorney can provide advice and guidance.
Source: Wired, "That ;) You Type Can and Will Be Used Against You in a Court of Law," Julia Greenberg, accessed Jan. 20, 2016