Many people do not think of defamation in the criminal context. However, subjecting another person to ridicule based on allegations of a false criminal behavior or serious moral turpitude is a form of defamation. These issues arise when a criminal cases reach wider public attention and where the accuser alleges serious statements publicly against the accused. Largely misunderstood by the general public, the cause of action (or “reason to sue”) exists because the courts have recognized that a person’s reputation has a value in their community or trade. Thus, if someone were to recklessly communicate falsehoods or outright exaggerations about you, you may take them to court in order to show that you have suffered harm to your good name or business.
: to defame someone means to communicate to a third party (that means anyone) something that hold another in a negative light, ridicule, or embarrassment. There are many instances where specific comments about a certain subject matter will presume damages because of the serious nature of those type of allegations. For example: comments regarding someone’s profession or business, the fact that the person may or may not have a communicable disease, or a woman’s chastity. If the defamatory statement is made in written form, this is called
In court, this is a much stronger evidentiary topic due to the fact that it is hard to refute the statement since it was communicated to reach a large audience and one in which is difficult to “take back.”
In most instances, defamation is discussed where the media (i.e.; newspapers, television, etc.) report on a sensitive subject without checking their facts first. This is especially true when it is concerning a public figure such as a celebrity or public official. Although beyond the scope of this article, it should be noted that public figures have a higher burden to show that they have been defamed since they have held themselves out to the public and have assumed the risk of such scrutiny. However, where the defendant chooses to defame that person, malice or reckless disregard for the truth will uphold the claim of defamation.
In many local cities and neighborhoods, defamation holds a special place in the courts. The reason for this is because most of us live in an area where we consider ourselves “locals.” The opinions of the people we see most often in the grocery store, coffee shop, night school, or anywhere else nearby are those whose opinions matter most to us. Therefore, a defamatory statement can potentially ruin a person’s reputation in the community and cause irreparable damage. When it comes to third party oral defamation, this is the most common type that eventually ends in the courtroom since the defamed party has so much to lose.