The Appellate Group

State v. Nilsson

State v. Nilsson, 2021 UT App 27 (Appleby, J.)


The defendant was charged with stalking the victim. While the victim was waiting to testify at a court hearing, the defendant sent her a social media post where he said he would not back down and said he would drag her through a civil suit. The victim said that post made her feel scared. The jury convicted the defendant of witness retaliation. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The social media post was sufficient to support a finding of harm under the witness retaliation statute. The statute defines harm as including emotional harm. Here, the post went beyond informing the victim of potential legal recourse and instead took the form of an angry, ranting, expletive-laden threat to drag the victim through many dubious legal claims, and the post was contrary to a protective order that was in place that prohibited communication between the defendant and the victim. 
  • A physical manifestation of the emotional harm is not necessary for an action to qualify as an emotional injury under the witness retaliation statute.

Read the full court opinion