Could Justin Bieber Fans Face Jail for Selena Gomez Death Threats?

J.B. fans have tweeted death wishes to new pal from Waverly Place. Sure it's inexcusable, but is it also illegal?

By Leslie Gornstein Jan 05, 2011 3:00 AMTags
Justin Bieber, Selena

Shouldn't those Justin Bieber fans be jailed for Tweeting stupid death threats to his new girlfriend, Selena Gomez?
—Eezo, via the inbox

You assume that the tweets in question are even legible. Other than the phrase "kill you," many of these messages looked like they were authored by furious lemurs who threw brazil nuts at a keyboard.

Still, the tweeters could face serious headaches if they don't stop right now:

TWITTER: Go ahead and send the Answer B!tch a tweet, but keep it legal—and legible

Lest the FBI end up knocking on the doors of some very sorry Beliebers.

Right now this issue is considered pretty small, former prosecutor Robin Sax tells me. We're talking about several tweets that are unspecific and pretty much incomprehensible.

But still, this matter is a federal one. The threats were delivered over the Internet, which means federal jurisdiction. If the bullying continues, or worsens, or grows more frequent or specific, then Gomez could file a police report and get the ball rolling on an FBI investigation.

In that case, the offending Twitter-er could end up facing a felony conviction, with jail time resulting.

Still, that's a pretty far-fetched scenario, especially given that the dingbats hiding behind their Twitter accounts will likely have found some other bobbleheaded starlet to bully by the time I finish writing this.

"I have seen these types of cases," Sax tells me, "but usually the tweets are accompanied with overt actions. In this case you would need to prove not only harassment of texts but that Selena was in sustained fear.

"And, depending on the jurisdiction and charge, there could also be legal requirement that the suspect actually had ability or intent to carry out threats."

A tall order. Especially given brainpower of the people in question.