Bloggers Beware, You’re Not Immune To Jail Time

Blogging can make you money, yes. But blogging can also put you in jail if you aren’t careful.

Professional bloggers shouldn’t feel immune to the threat of jail time or a lawsuit stemming from what they blog about. If you make one wrong comment against some angry or powerful person, or corporation, or whatever… you could find yourself sitting in a cell, or facing a team of blood-thirsty lawyers.

Don’t believe it? Check out the story of Erie Voices: Chronology Of Baumgartner/DuBois Case.

Erie Voices is written by Elsebeth Baumgartner and Bryan DuBois. Both writers were recently charged with 21 counts of “intimidation,” “retaliation,” “extortion,” and “possession of criminal tools” – the charges relating to their writings on this website and their attempts to expose Northern Ohio public corruption. Baumgartner was held in solitary confinement on a $360,000 bond – and DuBois was held on a $150,000. Their latest stint was a combined 47 days in jail.

Baumgartner’s total jail time to date is 268 days.

Did you read that right? The “possession of criminal tools” is their laptop computers.

Care to read more? Perhaps this piece (Ohio Prosecutor Extorting First Amendment) explains the story in better summary.

Stop writing and we’ll reduce your charges, an Ohio prosecutor has told an editor, in essence now publicly admitting that the criminal charges lodged against the website writer are direct retaliation for his exercise of First Amendment rights.

That’s illegal.

Less than two weeks ago, Daniel Kasaris, special prosecutor against two critics of public officials in northern Ohio, stated publicly that the duo’s website which often levels caustic charges against public officials, especially judges, and focuses on alleged governmental wrongdoing, was not a factor in the arrests of the pair.

But now he says if the website editor stops writing for the site, he’ll reduce the felony charges he brought against him to a misdemeanor. Sounds like blackmail to us; also seems to establish that he made a false statement.

Moral of the story? Think before you write. Even if you know you’re right, there’s always a chance at making the wrong people mad.

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