In re E.L.W.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated a juvenile’s adjudication of delinquency because the trial court misapprehended the nature of the mens rea of recklessness for terroristic threats. The defendant posted the following on Facebook: “We looting Walmart in Wilkes-Barre, PA tomorrow at 8 p.m. in all black, or just me?” The Commonwealth charged the defendant with terroristic threats, and the juvenile court convicted her. She appealed and argued that the juvenile court erred in finding that the Commonwealth established that she communicated the threat with the requisite mens rea. The Superior Court agreed, concluding that “to rule that Appellant’s actions violated § 2706(a)(3), the juvenile court was required to find that Appellant was in fact subjectively aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that her Facebook post would cause the proscribed harm, but that she consciously decided to disregard that risk and make the post anyway. The juvenile court’s finding that Appellant did not in fact appreciate the possible effects of her communication invalidates her adjudication of delinquency pursuant to subsection (a)(3).”

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