A Colorado man accused of posting comments about his ex-girlfriend on the web site Craigslist has been charged under a rarely used criminal libel law, reports ABC News. J.P. Weichel faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted for unflattering statements he allegedly posted in Craigslist’s "rants and raves" section. Colorado’s criminal libel law, passed in 1963, bans statements "tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead" or that "impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or expose the natural defects of one who is alive." Although similar laws, which trace their roots back to at least the 15th century, are on the books in at least 16 states, they are rarely used, and many others have been struck down as unconstitutional. But observers say there has been a rise in criminal libel cases since the late 1990s–many of them tied to the easy access and false sense of anonymity of the internet. The case against Weichel began when his former lover reported postings about her to the police. Court records cited by the Associated Press say one web post allegedly written by Weichel suggested the woman traded sexual acts for legal services from her attorney. When confronted by detectives, Weichel allegedly said he was "just venting," according to the AP. Most libel cases are civil lawsuits, and criminal charges for false statements are rare. But there have been several controversial criminal libel prosecutions in the past several years. A college student in Colorado was investigated under the law in 2004 for publishing a satirical online journal that was critical of the University of Northern Colorado, for example, but prosecutors eventually declined to file charges…

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