You may have heard the term before, but not many people really know what defamation is or what it pertains to. The proper definition for defamation is a publication of statements made about someone to an individual other than the person being defamed. Defamation is when an individual defames another on purpose in order to hurt them emotionally and/or professionally. There are multiple defenses that can be used if you are being accused of committing defamation.
There are six different defenses that can be used if you're being accused of defaming another. The first is called "truth". This is the absolute defense when fighting a case involving defamation. Another defense that can be used is called "privilege". This is when statements made in court by lawyers, judges or legislators; these aren't able to support the cause of action for defamation, even if it outrageous and untrue. Then there is "opinion", which is when an individual state's their opinion on a matter involving defamatory, but it doesn't support the case.
Similar to the "opinion" defense is "fair comment on a matter of public interest". This involves cases dealing with a corruption scandal. An individual can state their opinion on whether or not they believe the allegations are truth. The fourth defense is "plaintiff poor reputation, which involves proving that the individual being defamed already had a poor reputation within the community to help diminish the effect of damages the defamatory statements that were published. The sixth is "innocent dissemination"; this is when an individual or party doesn't have any knowledge of the nature or content of a defamatory statement – example being a sealed envelope with the defamatory statement being delivered without anyone seeing it. Their statements will not count in the case.
Once you understand what defamatory means, you may think that it sounds a lot like an individual having an opinion. There is a difference between having an opinion and making a defamatory statement. In order to differentiate the two depends on the nature of the statement. If you make a statement in a magazine about an individual and it sounds like a fact, then it is a defamatory statement. It has to be made known that it is an opinion. Telling the courts that it was an opinion will not be enough to defend yourself in a defamatory statement case.
There are two types of parties you can report against. With private figures, like your neighbors or roommates, they will have to prove negligence – where a person of reason would have made the same statements. If they can prove you made false statements, then you will lose your case against them. Then with public figures, they have to show "actual malice" to prove that you published knowingly or unknowingly about something that wasn't true. Proving this case can be a bit hard for a plaintiff to win.
If you feel you have been injured by slanderous statements, or need slander defense help, contact an attorney today to discuss your case.