ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that a state law that makes it a crime to stalk someone by telephone is unconstitutional because it's too broad.

Monday's ruling overturns the conviction of a man who authorities say repeatedly left threatening messages for Rice County Sheriff's Department and Social Services Department workers.

Authorities say Jason Peterson's messages in 2016 and 2017 frightened workers. But Peterson argued his convictions should be reversed because the state statute criminalizing phone stalking unconstitutionally restricts free speech.

The appeals court agreed and invalidated the statute.

The state is determining whether an appeal is appropriate.

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