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What is the Law on Seditious libel in Georgia and what are the Punishments for it?

While all states in the United States of America have their defamation statutes in place, the article takes a close look at defamation law in Georgia.

Definition of Defamation in Georgia

In Georgia, defamation has been defined as a defamatory, false, and unprivileged statement that concerns the plaintiff. Also, the defendant could be negligent while making such a statement that yet caused damage to the plaintiff.

In Georgia, the code pertaining to defamation says:

  1. Libel is malicious and false defamation of someone else, expressed in signs, pictures, writing, or print with the tendency to damage the person’s reputation and exposing him/her to public ridicule, contempt, or hatred.
  2. In Georgia, the publication is essential for recovering damages pertaining to libel.

According to the defamation law of Georgia, in general, any statements made about the public are not actionable. Additionally, the onus is on the plaintiffs for libel and slander to establish that statements being reviewed are about them.

Also, according to state law, it is possible for a “private’ person to sue someone else without having to establish actual malice. A private person just has to show that there was negligence on the part of the defendant while exchanging the defamatory statement to the 3rd party.

Damages for Defamation in Georgia

Under the law of Georgia, special damages are available for defamation. Oral defamation or slander include:

  1. Representing to another criminal offense penalized by law;
  2. Charging an individual with suffering from some kind of contagious disorder or being guilty of a debasing act that can exclude him/her from society;
  3. Slamming someone in context to their profession, office, or trade to injure the latter;
  4. Uttering derogatory comments that can lead to special damages.

Defamation in Georgia-Statute of Limitations

In Georgia, a plaintiff in a defamation case has a grace period of 1 year from the day on which the slanderous or libelous statements were made to them for filing a defamation lawsuit, referred to as the statute of limitations.

Seditious Libel Laws Georgia
Private and public figures have different proof standards for Libel and Slander in Georgia

In Georgia, a public figure has to adhere to a higher standard of proof in a defamation lawsuit as opposed to a private figure. For instance, a public figure has to establish the involvement of actual malice. On the other hand, a private figure has to simply prove negligence.

According to the defamation law of Georgia, political figures, government officials, and famous people are regarded as public figures.

Public figures for limited purpose in Georgia

Similar to other states in the United States, the state of Georgia acknowledges the fact that there are certain occasions when a private person can also become a famous figure, albeit for a short time.

However, the court has to:

  1. Identify and isolate the particular controversy where there is an involvement of the plaintiff;
  2. Determine the level of involvement of the plaintiff related to the controversy; and
  3. Ascertain how relevant the content of the defamatory statement is to the involvement of the plaintiff with respect to the public controversy in the state.

Single instance test for defamation against businesses and professionals

If a professional or a business was ignorant while making the statements or had mistakenly made a defamatory comment in just one instance, not due to lack of skills or plain general ignorance will not be actionable in the state per se. The reason is that altering some of being unprofessional or making a mistake only once does not signify that the entity is generally unfit.

In Georgia, this Single Instance rule is applicable when a publication charges any business or professional with just one error in judgment.

Defenses Available in Georgia

A defendant may also claim that statements broadcasted or written by them are substantially true. It is a possible defense available to the defendant in Georgia. The state also enables the expressing opinion and fair reporting privilege as one of the valid defenses.

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