Jeremy Jaynes has earned a spot in the legal history books, becoming the first to be convicted of felony spamming. Loudoun, Virginia, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne sentenced Jaynes to nine years in prison Friday but deferred execution of the sentence pending appeals.
In freeing Jaynes on bond pending appeal, Judge Horne noted the lack of precedent on Virginia's ultra-tough felony spam law, which could well be invalidated on appeal.
I don't believe that a person should go to prison for a law that is invalid, Horne said.
Jaynes' attorney, David Oblon, raised questions about the law in a post-trial hearing. In particular, Oblon questioned whether Jaynes, a North Carolina resident, could be imprisoned by Virginia merely because he sent the spam to customers through America Online, an Internet service provider based in Virginia.
At the sentencing hearing, Oblon argued that his client deserved a lenient sentence because he may have assumed that his actions in North Carolina would not be subject to Virginia's felony spam law, which was enacted in 2003.
Virginia law prohibits spam with falsified routing information that prevents recipients from knowing how to contact the sender.
Oblon also argued that a nine-year sentence was unduly harsh because Virginia sentencing guidelines would permit a sentence of less than nine years even for violent crimes such as manslaughter. Jaynes, a former Eagle Scout, had a clean criminal record before his November conviction, Oblon said.
Virginia Attorney General Judith Williams Jagdman said the tough sentenced was "a victory for all citizens of the Commonwealth and consumers nationwide who are plagued by spam. She said her office is preparing to prosecute accused spammers from Texas and Colorado.