What is the Law on Seditious libel in Mississippi and What are the Punishments for it?
Defamation is termed as any kind of statement which is explicitly made to injure the reputation of an individual, business, group or organization. There are two kinds of defamation- spoken, which is also known as slander, and written or published, which is known as seditious libel. According to the defamation laws of Mississippi, a statement is considered to be either slander or libel if it is said with a purpose to insult the victim, and leads to a breach of peace within them. In addition to this, these comments are only considered slanderous if they are not said to the victim, but rather to a neutral third party who can testify to the comments in a court of law.
Statute of Limitations in Mississippi
According to the statute of limitations in the state of Mississippi, the victim of the case has the time period of one year to bring to the court a case of seditious libel, begin from the time the libel became public or was known to the victim.
Public Persons Vs. Private Persons
Public figures in the state of Mississippi are classified as those people who have a level of trust with either the average person, the government, or both. Thus, if a public person becomes a victim of slander or libel, it becomes extremely difficult for them to prove their innocence in the issue, as they are faced with a barrage of questions. The onus also falls on the public official to prove that the article in question has been a result of actual malice, either by the news publication themselves or that they were paid by someone to publish the slanderous article.
On the other hand, a private person does not have to prove anything to the court of law. the only 'proof' that they have to present is evidence of the fact that the slanderous report which named them as a result of negligent and bad reporting by the reporters in question. Unlike a public person, a private person does not have to prove if they have ever said anything pertaining to the topic at hand. All they need to do is provide factual evidence showing that at the time of going to press, they were either aware of different content being published, or were completely unaware of it, to begin with.
Penalties for Seditious Libel in the state of Mississippi
Any individual who has been convicted of seditious libel in the state of Mississippi will either have to face jail time as sanctioned by the court, will have to pay a fine to the victim of the libel or both, depending on the extent of the defamation and the seriousness of the offense.
Defense of Seditious Libel- The Truth
The main defense that an individual charged with seditious libel is the fact that what they published is the absolute truth and nothing that they have posted is defamatory. However, in order to do so, the accused will have to provide concrete evidence showing that their stance is correct. If the accused can successfully prove that their statements were based on truth and actual facts, with motives for the general good and justifiable ends, then they are acquitted and dissolved off the crime.
The Supreme Court of the state of Mississippi has made it a crime to punish any kind of libel. However, the state does not define what libel actually constitutes. Since every case of defamation and seditious libel is made on a case to case basis, the punishments and penalties cannot be enforced as blanket retribution.