Criminal Defamation in the United States: A 2015 Update

criminal defamation
2015 US Criminal Defamation 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 in Georgia

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

Colorado also repealed its criminal defamation statute in 2012.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 its 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, New Mexico and North Carolina. That said, having such statutes on the books doesn’t mean they’re evoked. It’s been a long, long time since someone has been successfully charged with criminal slander or libel in the United States.

Speak With a Defamation Lawyer

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Article Sources

Duffy, M. (2015, August 12). Death of Georgia’s criminal defamation law. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from http://www.daltondailycitizen.com/opinion/death-of-georgia-s-criminal-defamation-law/article_518f2a5a-4163-11e5-8023-b7d34b422721.html