RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A Riverside County judge may be forced to revisit an old case after a California Supreme Court ruling on whether someone can be imprisoned for making verbal threats.

Eddie Lowery was arrested after he told his incarcerated wife he would shoot a man who accused the couple of stealing $250,000.

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Lowery was convicted of threatening a crime victim and sentenced to a one year in prison, according to the Associated Press.

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The California Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that a verbal threat is not protected by free speech if a reasonable listener concludes the threat was made in earnest.

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In the decision, Justice Joyce Kennard said the threat could be perceived as legitimate “even if the person had no intention of carrying out the threat”.