Some of the recent media coverage of the CPS interim guidelines on cases involving communications sent via social media has wrongly implied that claiming to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of sending a message would be a valid defence against prosecution.
This is incorrect. Rather, where a communication has been sent that is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false, there are a number of factors that are likely to mean that a prosecution is not in the public interest. One of these factors is whether the suspect has taken swift action to remove the communication or expressed genuine remorse.
It is this swift removal or genuine remorse that prosecutors would consider when deciding whether to prosecute, not whether the sender was under the influence of alcohol at the time of sending the communication.
It is important to note, however, that where communications amount to credible threats of violence, a targeted campaign of harassment against an individual or breach court orders, cases will be robustly prosecuted.The guidelines are available for public consultation on the CPS website.