What is the Law of Seditious Libel in Idaho and What are the Punishments for It?
The crime of seditious libel happens when one or more people deliberately spread false information about the government, with the knowledge that the information they are disseminating is wrong, and with intent to malign the government with it. Seditious libel was once considered a criminal case, but today, most States in America deal with it under civil defamation suits. Only fifteen States and Territories continue to list statutes that place seditious libel under criminal law, while most other States place it under civil law.
In Idaho, seditious libel is a punishable libel and those found guilty of it may be charged with a misdemeanor offense. However, not every case related to maligning the government is not seditious libel. If the content in the information disseminated against the government is the truth, then that cannot be considered as seditious libel in Idaho.
What is Seditious Libel in and how is it tried in the State of Idaho?
Seditious libel was originally a criminal offense and operated in America the same way as it had in England, which is where the law came from. Although many of the English laws that were prevalent at the time the colonists left the country made its way to America, they were changed and readopted as time went by and the country free and developed its own identity. The crime of seditious libel, that is, punishing anyone who spoke against the government was unpopular in the country.
Although the Sedition Act was passed in 1798, and it sought to standardize what could be seen as the law specifically pertaining to seditious libel, the law relating to and perception towards what should be considered as seditious libel started to change. After the agitation on free speech in the 1960s, many states reduced their legislation on criminal statutes pertaining to seditious libel. However, not every State treats seditious libel as a civil crime. Where the punishment for this crime is such that incarceration may be called for, that person can still face jail time.
The reason behind why seditious libel was not harshly enforced as criminal law is because the Constitution of America guarantees Freedom of Speech as a First Amendment Right. Keeping this in mind, censoring any form of criticism towards the government cannot be considered as seditious libel. That is why newspapers and journalists can continue to work and report on all kinds of information, even when that is against the government, without fear. However, when the information being spread is false and the person or people spreading that information is aware of that, yet they do so with the intention of bringing disrepute to the government, that is a crime punishable under the law in Idaho. However, if someone unknowingly spreads false information, or spreads false information where the intention is not to malign or harm the reputation of the government, then that is not considered as seditious libel.
What is the Punishment for Seditious Libel in the State of Idaho?
Seditious libel is treated more harshly in Idaho than in many other States. As long as the prosecuting attorney can prove that one or more people knowingly attempted to deceive multiple people and turn them against the government by using false or manipulated information and that such an attempt was dictated with the intention to defame or bring disrepute to the government, then those involved in this crime will be punished.
Idaho considers seditious libel to be a misdemeanor. Under the misdemeanor charge, the defendant, if found guilty, can be sentenced to a period in jail that does not exceed one year, or be asked to pay a fine that is no greater than $1000, or both.