The use of Emojis in e-communications has been steadily growing since 1997. Emoji’s are fun playful inserts into text messages such as the 👍 & 😈 or 😝. However, emoji’s have found legal recognition. A Canadian court found that the thumbs-up emoji 👍 between two contracting parties amounted to a signature thereby, bringing the contract into existence.
Emojis And Criminal Jurisdiction
In the US the use of emoji’s has crept into the criminal jurisdiction. In the State of Massachusetts, prosecutors successfully argued that sending the victim an emoji with Xs for eyes and using the victim’s nickname suggested premeditated homicide thereby rebutting accidental death. In France in 2016 a male was convicted of criminal threat for sending a gun emoji in a text message to his girlfriend. Police in South Carolina arrested two men for sending found a sequence – 👊 👉 🚑 – implying a criminal intent to physically harm.
Western Australia Supreme Court
In Australia the first case to decide that a tweet containing a zipper-faced-emoji 🤐 was capable of defamatory meaning. This year the WA Supreme Court court dealt with the use and interpretation of the thumbs-up emoji 👍 in civil proceedings. So far emojis have not turned up in WA criminal courts, it’s just a matter of time.
One can imagine that emojis in sequence such 🔪 👩 and ⚰️ accompanied by threatening text or where there is surrounding evidence of malice by one party towards another could very easily be interpreted as a threat.