Internet Law

Donor pays $500K bond for teen jailed for months over 'kidding' Facebook post about school shooting

Bailed out by an anonymous donor, after spending months in jail in lieu of posting $500,000 bond over a comment he posted on Facebook about a school shooting, a Texas teenager says he has learned his lesson.

In an interview with CNN published Friday, Justin Carter, 19, said that he had not intended for anyone to take his sarcastic comment seriously and would be more careful in the future about what he says on the Internet.

Earlier this week, Carter’s lawyer, Don Flanary, said his client’s family is “ecstatic” about his release following an unexpected call Wednesday from the donor offering to provide bail, reported NPR.

Carter was arrested and jailed in March and indicted in April by a Comal County grand jury for allegedly making a terroristic threat. He refused an offered plea deal in the felony case that would have carried an eight-year prison term, his lawyer, Ivan Friedman, told the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

“I think I’ma [sic] shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them,” he wrote on Facebook, sparking multiple complaints by readers.

He’s not the only thoughtless teen to face a criminal case over comments, which arguably can fall on either the right or the wrong side of the law, depending on the facts and circumstances and how those in charge of prosecuting such cases interpret the First Amendment. The district attorney in Carter’s criminal case, which is still ongoing, declined to comment when contacted by the newspaper.

“When he was arrested, he said, ‘Wow, I guess what you say on Facebook really does matter,’ ” Carter’s mother, Jennifer, told the Wall Street Journal. “He had no comprehension, as most teens don’t, that what they’re saying on the Internet isn’t just being viewed by them and the people who know them.”

Part of the Facebook comment thread, she says, includes a clarifying “j/k” from Carter, shorthand for “just kidding.”

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