Frabjous Times

A thought crime charge dismissed

Back in May, I wrote here about the son of a friend of mine who was being charged with "knowingly and wilfully planning to perform an act of violence," a felony in Oklahoma, based on a fiction piece he wrote describing a future shooting in a high school. Cleveland County District Court Judge William C. Hetherington ordered that the charges be dismissed, writing
Of note, the statute as drafted does not refer to or limit application in any way to a school environment. It is drafted as a catchall statute to address "terrorist" activity, only in part in response to school violence. To allow for a criminal conviction for merely drafting a plan of violence and nothing more, would clearly violate First Amendment privileges. As argued in briefs in support of the defendant's request for dismissal, to do otherwise would make author Stephen King guilty of a felony in Oklahoma many times over.
article in Wired. You can read more about the reaction to this article at the blog at the the site.
Brian's mother writes that the only downside of the denouement is that her son still has a felony charge (not conviction) on his record. Because the charge has been in force for over one year, the judge's ruling does not expunge it, although it is possible that there are other ways to put this to rights.
Originally published: 2003/08/31 18:13:09