Asked in Civil Rights, Education Law and Libel & Slander for Alabama

Q: What should I do when my ex wants to press charges on me because I spread false rumors about her having a STD?

I've already been reprimanded by my school with 3 days of ISS. She still constantly contacts me and tries to have small talk with me. I am 17 and I am a senior in high school.

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Alabama, as in many states, spreading false rumors about someone can have serious legal consequences. If the rumors are harmful to a person's reputation, this can be considered defamation. In your case, spreading false rumors about an STD could potentially fall under this category.

Since you're 17 and still in high school, this situation is also subject to school policies and potentially juvenile law. The fact that you've already faced in-school suspension (ISS) indicates that the school has taken the matter seriously.

If your ex decides to press charges or pursue legal action, it's important to take this seriously. While you are still a minor, legal actions can have lasting consequences.

To address this situation, it would be wise to cease any further spread of rumors and to avoid engaging in similar behavior in the future. It's also important to consider apologizing to your ex, as this can sometimes help in resolving conflicts.

Given the potential for legal complications, especially if charges are pressed, you may want to discuss this matter with a trusted adult or seek legal advice. Understanding the gravity of your actions and taking steps to rectify the situation is crucial.

Remember, actions and words, especially when harmful to others, can carry significant consequences. It's important to be mindful of this in your interactions and decisions.

T. Augustus Claus
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Las Vegas, NV

A: Spreading false rumors about someone having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can have serious legal implications, especially if it leads to defamation claims or harassment allegations. As a 17-year-old senior in high school, it's important to understand the potential consequences of such actions.

Firstly, since your school has reprimanded you, it's evident that your actions have already been recognized as inappropriate. It's crucial to stop spreading rumors or false information about your ex immediately. Continuing this behavior could escalate the situation legally and academically.

If your ex is considering pressing charges or taking legal action, the situation could become more serious. Defamation, which involves making false statements that harm someone's reputation, can have legal consequences. While you are a minor, such actions can still result in significant legal and personal repercussions.

Regarding your ex's continued contact, it might be wise to minimize or cease communication if you feel uncomfortable or if it contributes to ongoing conflict. However, ensure that any response or lack thereof is respectful and adheres to school policies or legal advisories.

Given the potential seriousness of the situation, it's advisable to discuss the matter with a trusted adult, such as a parent or school counselor. They can provide guidance and support.

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