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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes

Title XLVI
CRIMES
Chapter 836
DEFAMATION; LIBEL; THREATENING LETTERS AND SIMILAR OFFENSES
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CHAPTER 836
CHAPTER 836
DEFAMATION; LIBEL; THREATENING LETTERS AND SIMILAR OFFENSES
836.01 Punishment for libel.
836.02 Must give name of the party written about.
836.03 Owner or editor of the paper also guilty.
836.04 Defamation.
836.05 Threats; extortion.
836.06 Punishment for making derogatory statements concerning banks and building and loan associations.
836.07 Notice condition precedent to prosecution for libel.
836.08 Correction, apology, or retraction by newspaper.
836.09 Communicating libelous matter to newspapers; penalty.
836.10 Written or electronic threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism; punishment; exemption from liability.
836.11 Publications which tend to expose persons to hatred, contempt, or ridicule prohibited.
836.115 Cyberintimidation by publication.
836.12 Threats or harassment.
836.13 Promotion of an altered sexual depiction; prohibited acts; penalties; applicability.
836.14 Theft or unauthorized promotion of a sexually explicit image.
836.01 Punishment for libel.Any person convicted of the publication of a libel shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 15, sub-ch. 7, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2418; GS 3256; RGS 5087; CGL 7189; s. 987, ch. 71-136.
836.02 Must give name of the party written about.
(1) No person shall print, write, publish, circulate or distribute within this state any newspaper, magazine, periodical, pamphlet, or other publication of any character, either written or printed, wherein the alleged immoral acts of any person are stated or pretended to be stated, or wherein it is intimated that any person has been guilty of any immorality, unless such written or printed publication shall in such article publish in full the true name of the person intended to be charged with the commission of such acts of immorality.
(2) Any person convicted of any violation of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Any person who shall aid in any way in the writing or printing of any literature in violation of this section shall be punished in the same manner as the principal might be punished upon conviction; provided, nothing in this section shall apply to mechanical employees in printing offices, or to newsboys.
History.ss. 1, 2, 3, ch. 4733, 1899; GS 3257; RGS 5088; CGL 7190; s. 988, ch. 71-136.
836.03 Owner or editor of the paper also guilty.Any owner, manager, publisher or editor of any newspaper or other publication who permits any anonymous communication or communications such as is signed otherwise than with the true name of the writer, and such name published therewith to appear in the columns of the publication in which said communication any person is attacked in his or her good name, or it is attempted to bring disgrace or ridicule upon any person, such owner, manager, publisher or editor shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 4, ch. 4733, 1899; GS 3258; RGS 5089; CGL 7191; s. 989, ch. 71-136; s. 1306, ch. 97-102.
836.04 Defamation.Whoever speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 1, ch. 3460, 1883; RS 2419; GS 3260; RGS 5091; CGL 7193; s. 990, ch. 71-136.
836.05 Threats; extortion.
(1) Whoever, either verbally or by a written or printed communication, maliciously threatens to accuse another of any crime or offense, or by such communication maliciously threatens an injury to the person, property or reputation of another, or maliciously threatens to expose another to disgrace, or to expose any secret affecting another, or to impute any deformity or lack of chastity to another, with intent thereby to extort money or any pecuniary advantage whatsoever, or with intent to compel the person so threatened, or any other person, to do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will, commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(2) A person who commits a violation of subsection (1) and at the time of the violation is acting as a foreign agent, as defined in s. 812.081(1), with the intent of benefiting a foreign country of concern, as defined in s. 692.201, commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
History.s. 42, sub-ch. 3, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2420; GS 3261; RGS 5092; CGL 7194; s. 1, ch. 57-254; s. 991, ch. 71-136; s. 1307, ch. 97-102; s. 11, ch. 2023-33.
836.06 Punishment for making derogatory statements concerning banks and building and loan associations.Any person who shall willfully and maliciously make, circulate or transmit to another or others any false statement, rumor or suggestion, written, printed or by word of mouth, which is directly or by inference derogatory to the financial condition or affects the solvency or financial standing of any banking institution or building and loan association doing business in this state, or who shall counsel, aid, procure or induce another to start, transmit or circulate any such statement or rumor, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 1, ch. 6819, 1915; RGS 5093; s. 1, ch. 11866, 1927; CGL 7195, 7315; s. 992, ch. 71-136.
836.07 Notice condition precedent to prosecution for libel.Before any criminal action is brought for publication, in a newspaper periodical, of a libel, the prosecutor shall at least 5 days before instituting such action serve notice in writing on defendant, specifying the article and the statements therein which he or she alleges to be false and defamatory.
History.s. 1, ch. 16070, 1933; CGL 1936 Supp. 7064(1); s. 1308, ch. 97-102.
836.08 Correction, apology, or retraction by newspaper.
(1) If it appears upon the trial that said article was published in good faith; that its falsity was due to an honest mistake of the facts; that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the statements in said article were true; and that, within the period of time specified in subsection (2), a full and fair correction, apology, and retraction was published in the same editions or corresponding issues of the newspaper or periodical in which said article appeared, and in as conspicuous place and type as was said original article, then any criminal proceeding charging libel based on an article so retracted shall be discontinued and barred.
(2) Full and fair correction, apology, or retraction shall be made:
(a) In the case of a broadcast or a daily or weekly newspaper or periodical, within 10 days after service of notice;
(b) In the case of a newspaper or periodical published semimonthly, within 20 days after service of notice;
(c) In the case of a newspaper or periodical published monthly, within 45 days after service of notice; and
(d) In the case of a newspaper or periodical published less frequently than monthly, in the next issue, provided that notice is served no later than 45 days prior to such publication.
History.s. 2, ch. 16070, 1933; CGL 1940 Supp. 7064(2); s. 993, ch. 71-136; s. 2, ch. 80-34.
836.09 Communicating libelous matter to newspapers; penalty.If any person shall state, deliver, or transmit by any means whatever, to the manager, editor, publisher or reporter of any newspaper or periodical for publication therein any false and libelous statement concerning any person, then and there known by such person to be false or libelous, and thereby secure the publication of the same he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 1, ch. 5142, 1903; GS 3259; RGS 5090; CGL 7192; s. 3, ch. 16070, 1933; CGL 1936 Supp. 7064(3); s. 994, ch. 71-136; s. 1309, ch. 97-102.
836.10 Written or electronic threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism; punishment; exemption from liability.
(1) As used in this section, the term “electronic record” means any record created, modified, archived, received, or distributed electronically which contains any combination of text, graphics, video, audio, or pictorial represented in digital form, but does not include a telephone call.
(2) It is unlawful for any person to send, post, or transmit, or procure the sending, posting, or transmission of, a writing or other record, including an electronic record, in any manner in which it may be viewed by another person, when in such writing or record the person makes a threat to:
(a) Kill or to do bodily harm to another person; or
(b) Conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.

A person who violates this subsection commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(3) This section does not impose liability on a provider of an interactive computer service, communications services as defined in s. 202.11, a commercial mobile service, or an information service, including, but not limited to, an Internet service provider or a hosting service provider, if it provides the transmission, storage, or caching of electronic communications or messages of others or provides another related telecommunications service, commercial mobile radio service, or information service for use by another person who violates this section. This exemption from liability is consistent with and in addition to any liability exemption provided under 47 U.S.C. s. 230.
History.s. 1, ch. 6503, 1913; RGS 5094; CGL 7196; s. 995, ch. 71-136; s. 1, ch. 2010-51; s. 17, ch. 2018-3; s. 1, ch. 2018-128; s. 2, ch. 2021-220.
836.11 Publications which tend to expose persons to hatred, contempt, or ridicule prohibited.
(1) It shall be unlawful to print, publish, distribute or cause to be printed, published or distributed by any means, or in any manner whatsoever, any publication, handbill, dodger, circular, booklet, pamphlet, leaflet, card, sticker, periodical, literature, paper or other printed material which tends to expose any individual or any religious group to hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy unless the following is clearly printed or written thereon:
(a) The true name and post office address of the person, firm, partnership, corporation or organization causing the same to be printed, published or distributed; and,
(b) If such name is that of a firm, corporation or organization, the name and post office address of the individual acting in its behalf in causing such printing, publication or distribution.
(2) Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the sections of this statute shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.ss. 1, 2, ch. 22744, 1945; s. 996, ch. 71-136.
836.115 Cyberintimidation by publication.
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Electronically publish” means to disseminate, post, or otherwise disclose information to an Internet site or forum.
(b) “Harass” has the same meaning as provided in s. 817.568(1)(c).
(c) “Personal identification information” has the same meaning as provided in s. 817.568(1)(f).
(2) It is unlawful for a person to electronically publish another person’s personal identification information with the intent to, or with the intent that a third party will use the information to:
(a) Incite violence or commit a crime against the person; or
(b) Threaten or harass the person, placing such person in reasonable fear of bodily harm.

A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of a first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.s. 14, ch. 2021-6.
836.12 Threats or harassment.
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Family member” means:
1. An individual related to another individual by blood or marriage; or
2. An individual who stands in loco parentis to another individual.
(b) “Judicial assistant” means a court employee assigned to the office of a specific judge or justice responsible for providing administrative, secretarial, and clerical support to the assigned judge or justice.
(c) “Law enforcement officer” means:
1. A law enforcement officer as defined in s. 943.10; or
2. A federal law enforcement officer as defined in s. 901.1505.
(2)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), any person who knowingly and willfully threatens a law enforcement officer, a state attorney, an assistant state attorney, a firefighter, a judge, a justice, a judicial assistant, a clerk of court, clerk personnel, or an elected official, or a family member of any such person, with death or serious bodily harm commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) A person who commits a second or subsequent violation of paragraph (a) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) Any person who knowingly and willfully harasses a law enforcement officer, a state attorney, an assistant state attorney, a firefighter, a judge, a justice, a judicial assistant, a clerk of court, clerk personnel, or an elected official, with the intent to intimidate or coerce such a person to perform or refrain from performing a lawful duty, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 3, ch. 2016-156; s. 1, ch. 2023-194.
836.13 Promotion of an altered sexual depiction; prohibited acts; penalties; applicability.
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Altered sexual depiction” means any visual depiction that, as a result of any type of digital, electronic, mechanical, or other modification, alteration, or adaptation, depicts a realistic version of an identifiable person:
1. With the nude body parts of another person as the nude body parts of the identifiable person;
2. With computer-generated nude body parts as the nude body parts of the identifiable person; or
3. Engaging in sexual conduct as defined in s. 847.001 in which the identifiable person did not engage.
(b) “Identifiable person” means a person who is recognizable as an actual person by the person’s face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic, such as a unique birthmark, or other recognizable feature.
(c) “Nude body parts” means the human male or female genitals, pubic area, or buttocks with less than fully opaque covering; or the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple; or the depiction of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state. The term does not under any circumstances include a mother breastfeeding her baby.
(d) “Promote” means to issue, sell, give, provide, lend, mail, deliver, transfer, transmit, transmute, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, send, post, share, or advertise or to offer or agree to do the same.
(e) “Visual depiction” includes, but is not limited to, a photograph, picture, image, motion picture, film, video, or other visual representation.
(2) A person who willfully and maliciously promotes any altered sexual depiction of an identifiable person, without the consent of the identifiable person, and who knows or reasonably should have known that such visual depiction was an altered sexual depiction, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) Every act, thing, or transaction prohibited by this section constitutes a separate offense and is punishable as such.
(4) The presence of a disclaimer within an altered sexual depiction which notifies a viewer that the person or persons depicted did not consent to or participate in the creation or promotion of the material, or that the person or persons depicted did not actually perform the actions portrayed, is not a defense and does not relieve a person of criminal liability under this section.
(5) An aggrieved person may initiate a civil action against a person who violates subsection (2) to obtain appropriate relief in order to prevent or remedy a violation of subsection (2), including all of the following:
(a) Injunctive relief.
(b) Monetary damages to include $10,000 or actual damages incurred as a result of a violation of subsection (2), whichever is greater.
(c) Reasonable attorney fees and costs.
(6) The criminal and civil penalties of this section do not apply to:
(a) A provider of an interactive computer service as defined in 47 U.S.C. s. 230(f), of an information service as defined in 47 U.S.C. s. 153, or of a communications service as defined in s. 202.11 which provides the transmission, storage, or caching of electronic communications or messages of others; another related telecommunications or commercial mobile radio service; or content provided by another person;
(b) A law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10, or any local, state, federal, or military law enforcement agency that promotes an altered sexual depiction in connection with the performance of his or her duties as a law enforcement officer or the duties of the law enforcement agency;
(c) A person reporting unlawful activity; or
(d) A person participating in a hearing, trial, or other legal proceeding.
(7) A violation of this section is committed within this state if any conduct that is an element of the offense, or any harm to the depicted person resulting from the offense, occurs within this state.
(8) Prosecution of a person for an offense under this section does not preclude prosecution of that person in this state for a violation of any other law of this state, including a law providing for greater penalties than prescribed in this section or any other crime related to child pornography or the sexual performance or the sexual exploitation of children.
History.s. 5, ch. 2022-212.
836.14 Theft or unauthorized promotion of a sexually explicit image.
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Identifiable person” has the same meaning as in s. 836.13.
(b) “Promote” has the same meaning as in s. 836.13.
(c) “Sexually explicit image” means any image depicting an identifiable person portraying nudity as defined in s. 847.001 or an identifiable person engaging in sexual conduct as defined in s. 847.001.
(2) A person who commits a theft in violation of s. 812.014 of a sexually explicit image with the intent to promote such image commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) A person who willfully possesses with the intent to promote a sexually explicit image for the purpose of pecuniary or any other financial gain, when he or she knows or should have known the image was obtained in violation of subsection (2), commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(4) A person who willfully promotes, through the use of print media, an Internet website, or other electronic means, for the purpose of pecuniary or any other financial gain, a sexually explicit image without consent of the identifiable person commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(5) Every act, thing, or transaction prohibited by this section constitutes a separate offense and is punishable as such.
(6) An aggrieved person may initiate a civil action against a person who violates this section to obtain all appropriate relief in order to prevent or remedy a violation of this section, including the following:
(a) Injunctive relief.
(b) Monetary damages to include $10,000 or actual damages incurred as a result of a violation of this section, whichever is greater.
(c) Reasonable attorney fees and costs.
(7) The criminal and civil penalties of this section do not apply to:
(a) A provider of an interactive computer service as defined in 47 U.S.C. s. 230(f), of an information service as defined in 47 U.S.C. s. 153, or of a communications service as defined in s. 202.11 which provides the transmission, storage, or caching of electronic communications or messages of others; another related telecommunications or commercial mobile radio service; or content provided by another person;
(b) A law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10, or any local, state, federal, or military law enforcement agency that disseminates a sexually explicit image in connection with the performance of his or her duties as a law enforcement officer or the duties of the law enforcement agency;
(c) A person reporting unlawful activity;
(d) A person participating in a hearing, trial, or other legal proceeding;
(e) Sexually explicit images involving voluntary exposure in a public or commercial setting; or
(f) Sexually explicit images possessed or promoted by a bona fide news media organization for a legitimate and newsworthy purpose.
(8) A violation of this section is committed within this state if any conduct that is an element of the offense, or any harm to the depicted individual resulting from the offense, occurs within this state.
(9) Prosecution of a person for an offense under this section does not preclude prosecution of that person in this state for a violation of any other law of this state, including a law providing for greater penalties than prescribed in this section or any other crime related to child pornography or the sexual performance or the sexual exploitation of children.
History.s. 6, ch. 2022-212.