MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A split Vermont Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a man who spent two years in prison for violating a relief from abuse order because of the vague legal definition of harassment.
In its Friday order, the court ruled 3-2 that the judge gave improper instructions to the jury that later convicted Tyler Smith Waters in 2011.
Court documents say Waters was allowed some contact with his former partner and he sent her 37 text messages in 30 days, but he did not threaten to harm her.
The majority of the court said that state law says harassment is defined by a fear of violence.
But the dissenting justices said that common sense and a jury are equipped to determine whether the circumstances were harassment.
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