What constitutes legal "Defamation of Character" as a criminal charge?

I was reading this article and wondered. The defendant’s atty says charging someone with criminal defamation fo character is unconstitutional. Why would he say this? Is it?

I don’t know about unconstitutional, but maybe the attorney is thinking of the provision made for “public figures”? I cannot give specifics, but I seem to recall that it is felt that public figures are going to be criticized, and allowances are made for thisi? I also seem to recall that teachers are considered such.

“Defamation of character” is usually a civil tort, not a criminal one. You can sue someone for it, but they can’t be arrested. I would think a law that defines this as criminal would be unconstitutional, and I seriously doubt any such law exists in the state of Georgia.

My guess is that something is confused. The teacher (not knowing the law) filed the charges and the police – probably unused to such things – mistakenly thought libel was a criminal offense (How often are such things filed in Henry County?).

Information on Defamation of character can be found here. Judging by the original article, a libel case could be made, but it’s not a sure thing.

Depends on the statute. Here is an article about the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that Alabama’s criminal defamation statute is unconstitutional. http://www.rcfp.org/news/2001/0709iveyva.html

Here is Garrison v. Louisiana, in which the Supreme Court applied the *New York Times * standard to criminal defamation statutes.

According to this article the kid’s attorney says the law was declared unconstitutional in 1982 by the Georgia Supreme Court.