After a fight with his girlfriend, J.P. Weichel of Loveland, Colorado thought he could blow off some steam by writing nasty things about his ex on in the “Rants & Raves” section of Craigslist. Maybe that makes him a jerk, but under a Colorado criminal libel law, Weichel faces up to 18 months in prison.
AP: The case began when a woman told Loveland police in December 2007 about postings made about her between November and December 2007. Court records show posts that suggested she traded sexual acts for legal services from her attorney and mentioned a visit from child services because of an injury to her child.
Police obtained search warrants for records from Web sites including Craigslist before identifying Weichel as the suspect. Weichel shares a child with the woman.
Weichel, confronted by detectives at his workplace in August, said he was “just venting,” according to court records.
The Colorado law bans statements “tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead” or that “impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or expose the natural defects of one who is alive.”
We’re not lawyers, but we’re going to assume if you can be prosecuted for badmouthing someone on Craigslist, you’re just as liable for behaviour on MySpace, Facebook, a WordPress blog, or anywhere else online. Libel is usually a civil matter, unless you live in one of the handful of states (like Colorado) with a criminal libel statute on the books.
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