Manslaughter by text?

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An involuntary manslaughter trial began Tuesday for a Massachusetts woman who as a teen texted her boyfriend and urged him to commit suicide.

The woman, Michelle Carter, faces a maximum 20-year prison term if convicted at a bench trial in Bristol County. Attorneys for Carter, who was 18 at the time of the texts, had tried to fend off the charges, saying her texts to 17-year-old Conrad Roy were protected speech under the First Amendment. The state’s top court, the Supreme Judicial Court, set no line in the sand on when speech loses its constitutional protection. Instead, the court upheld the indictment for involuntary manslaughter on “the basis of words alone.” More at ars technica.

An awful story, but fascinated to see how this plays out.

3 thoughts on “Manslaughter by text?

  1. I can see this going to the Supreme Court because it’s a constitutional thing. And it’s not just whether or not her speech was protected, but whether someone can convince someone to do something for which they are then responsible for. If she had told him to rob a bank and nothing else to participate, and he got caught, would she be held criminally responsible?

    1. No, but he was obviously not in a good way and she knew that. If I told someone to rob a bank who had for example learning difficulties, am I responsible then? It’s such a difficult one to judge.

      1. Read the article on Incitement in Wikipedia. Very interesting. The question may come down to whether committing suicide is a crime. If so, then very likely at a minimum, she is guilty of inciting him to commit a crime.

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