In September 2008, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Virginia’s then-enacted anti-spam laws were per se unconstitutional on the grounds that they violated the First Amendment right of freedom of speech. At the time, Virginia’s anti-spam laws prohibited the sending of unwanted, unsolicited e-mails, both commercial and non-commercial.

The Virginia Supreme Court argued that

The criminal conviction of Jeremy Jaynes—the first-ever such conviction under Virginia’s strict anti-spam law—has been vacated in a ruling in which Virginia’s highest court concluded that the law in question is unconstitutionally overbroad. Had Jaynes’ conviction stood, he could have served as much as nine years in prison.

Jaynes was convicted under the Virginia Computer Crimes Act of illegal spam for sending tens of thousands of unsolicited commercial emails to subscribers of America Online, Inc. (AOL). Jaynes allegedly falsified the header information and sender domain names before transmitting the emails in violation of the law. When investigators searched his home, they found electronic records containing the emails of some 1.3 billion users.

A resident of Raleigh, N.C., Jaynes was tried in Loudoun County, Va., where AOL had its headquarters at the time that the alleged spam was sent. He was convicted by a jury, and his conviction was upheld by a Virginia Court of Appeals.Continue Reading Va. Spam Law Ruled Unconstitutional; Spammer Conviction Overturned