DeReal Finklin, in jail since July for making a death threat against Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) pleaded guilty today to Cyber Harassment, a fourth-degree felony.
Finklin admitted to posting threatening messages on the Internet, including “Dead Man Walking” next to a photo of Smith on social media.
As part of a plea deal, Monmouth County prosecutors agreed that the 91 days Finklin has already served would complete his jail time, along with probation and a full mental health evaluation. He is not allowed to have any contact with Smith.
“This guilty plea in this case underscores the need to report threats including online posts to law enforcement for evaluation and possible prosecution before a situation escalates,” said Smith. “See something—including online—say something to law enforcement is advice everyone needs to follow to prevent acts of violence from happening.”
Smith said that threatening social media posts are often ignored until after a violent crime is committed.
“To track down the defendant—he hid his actual identity online—obtain a guilty plea and ensure that Mr. Finklin gets the mental health assistance he appears to need is a win for public safety and the defendant, and it mitigates at least this threat,” Smith said.
Smith said he asked prosecutors to require mental health treatment for Finklin after speaking with Finklin’s mother.