What is the Law of Seditious Libel in North Dakota and What are the Punishments for It?
Seditious libel is a crime that has greatly evolved through its time in American history. Once it was considered as illegal to speak of any wrongdoing on the part of the government, or to lie about the government, or to encourage or incite any kind of defamation towards the government. Those laws have greatly changed since the first settlers from England brought seditious libel, among many other English laws to America.
Today, seditious libel is treated in a manner that is more similar to defamation. It is also only considered as defamation when certain very specific requirements are met, one of which is that it can not be considered as defamation if what was spoken was the truth. North Dakota however, is one of the seventeen states in the country that recognizes defamation under criminal law. This means that it is a crime to defame anyone within this State. North Dakota also recognizes that defamation is a civil wrong, alongside making it a crime punishable under the law.
What is considered as Seditious Libel in the State of North Dakota and what are the Punishments for it?
The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States provides for the right to freedom of speech for every citizen in America. Under this freedom, people can freely express their opinions and thoughts without needing to be in fear of what the government or any other person thinks. Because of this law, and the debates around what can be tried as seditious libel and what falls under freedom of speech, lawmakers had to keep evolving the law until a consensus could be reached on the topic.
That consensus was eventually reached when the Supreme Court ruled that no federal or state government has the right to control or interfere in what another person is expressing through their right to freedom of speech. This ensured that seditious libel, which was once considered a criminal law, slowly started evolving as different States started using different laws to punish crimes of the nature of seditious libel.
Most States punish cases related to seditious libel as defamation against the government. In North Dakota, defamation falls under criminal law but is recognized as a civil wrong as well. In order for a situation to qualify as defamation against the government, the information that was spread cannot have been the truth, it must have been spread either in a reckless manner or using malicious intent, and it must have resulted in real damages to the government that are either of a material or reputation nature.
What are the Punishments for Seditious Libel in the State of North Dakota?
Since defamation is considered a crime in North Dakota, it is punishable by either incarceration, fines, or both. The actual punishment that will be out is dependent on the facts of the case, and which classification under criminal law it falls under.
However, in order for someone to be successfully convicted of defamation against the government, it must be proved that they were in violation of their right to freedom of speech when the engaged in libel against the government, and that their behavior resulted in the government having to suffer from either a loss of reputation, resources or finances.
It is considered a more serious form of defamation when the plaintiff is the government. For this reason, the punishment meted out to those charged and convicted of defaming the government will be harsher than that meted out in cases related to defamation between civilians.