Criminal Defamation in the United States: A 2015 Update
Georgia Erased Its Criminal Defamation Statute
During the 2014-2015 legislative session, via House Bill 252, Georgia representatives finally axed several statutes that have little businesses existing in the 21st century – and one of those decrees was the State’s criminal defamation law.
It’s been a Long Time since Georgia Threw Anyone in Jail for Defamation
Though the criminal defamation law has remained on Georgia’s law books, it has not been used since the 1982 case, Williamson v. Georgia. At that time, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that felonious slander and libel laws contradicted the state constitution. But despite the Williamson ruling, the laws stayed on the books.
Criminal Slander and Libel across the United States
Colorado also repealed its criminal defamation statute in 2012. Officials in the Centennial State quickly erased the law after the District Attorney’s office was forced to shell out about $425,000 on account of a criminal libel warrant gone terribly wrong.
SCOTUS’ Take on Criminal Defamation
Though the Supreme Court of the United States has not banned criminal defamation statutes on a federal level, in Garrison v. Louisiana, the court strongly suggested that those types of slander and libel laws had no place in modern society.
States that Still Have Criminal Defamation Laws
Several states continue to keep criminal defamation laws on the books including Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Colorado, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. That said, having such statutes on the books doesn’t mean they’re used.
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Duffy, M. (2015, August 12). Death of Georgia’s criminal defamation law. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from https://www.daltondailycitizen.com/opinion/death-of-georgia-s-criminal-defamation-law/article_518f2a5a-4163-11e5-8023-b7d34b422721.html