A defamation claim in California requires the plaintiff to prove that someone negligently, recklessly, or intentionally made a false statement of purported “fact” regarding them to a third party and as a direct result of the statement, irreparable harm was done to their property, business, profession, occupation and/or their reputation. If the statement was made verbally or using any transitory medium, it is considered slander; if it was made in writing in a fixed medium, it is libel.
Even though the First Amendment protects free speech, this right is never absolute; the Supreme Court has long supported the unconstitutionality of false statements of fact. However, in California, a lawsuit for the same must be commenced within one year of the plaintiff reasonably knowing about the alleged defamation.
Examples of slander defamation
- Telling someone a doctor has illicit connections with his patients.
- A shopkeeper accuses a customer of stealing.
Examples of libel defamation
- A newspaper report claims a specific business owner embezzled company funds.
- A teacher communicates false statements about the school authorities via emails.
- Posting false rumors about a person on social media.
Both libel and slander are legally classified as torts or “civil wrongs” and not a crime per se.
- When a case of defamation is filed, the accused is taken into custody. Next, the police record all relevant information and put the accused behind bars. In most cases, the suspect is required to bail himself to avoid such pre-trial incarceration, which involves a refundable amount collected by the court as surety for all court appearances.
- One might not always have the entire bail amount at hand. In that case, a bail bond can be obtained at 8-15% from a reliable agent of bail bonds Rancho Cucamonga. The process is fast, convenient, and guaranteed to work.
- After the defendant is released on bail, they are free to seek legal counsel to build a strong case to prove their innocence during trial.
- Justification by the truth: If the allegedly defamatory statement is proved to be true and authentic in all sense, it does not constitute defamation.
- Fair comment: This entails an opinion honestly held by the defendant who expresses it. They have to prove that the opinion was reached based on facts, and depending on the context, without any malicious intention.
- Trivial faults in reporting: Minor errors in a publication about someone are exempted from being defamatory.
- Public Interest: According to the rule of law, statements made in the interest of the larger public cannot be considered.
- Privileged statement: Remarks made between spouses, during judicial proceedings, by government officials, by legislators during parliamentary debates, during political speeches, cannot be held as defamation.
- Celebrity eminence: If the prosecution is a public star or celebrity, it has to be established that malicious intent was involved.
In general, the roles of the plaintiff and defendant are reversed in a defamation lawsuit. The former must be prepared to prove that the defendant acted with malice and negligence, and the publicity arising from the trial itself can harm their reputation further and make the situation worse.