Private Investigator in Cedar Rapids Serving All Eastern Iowa
DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER
April 9, 2015
Very often in the news, we hear accusations against a public figure. Whether the accusations are true or false, these accusations can cause great financial and psychological damage to an individual and his entire family. We have been conditioned to believe that if it makes the news, there must be some basis of truth. The accused is virtually tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion and the concept of innocent until proven guilty is turned on its head.
Public figures have an additional burden of proof over the average citizen. They must proof not only that the statements are false but that the accuser intended malice. This burden of proof is very difficult to prove for a public figure and most don’t bother. Good news for the tabloid industry!
Accusations that tend to harm a person’s reputation, lower other’s estimation of a person, or deter others from dealing with the person are all defamatory in nature. However, if the accusations are true, then there is no defense for the person accused. In other words, you can say anything you want about a person as long as it’s true. But proving its true might cost you a lot of money if you get sued!
Defamation is a general term that deals with the torts of libel and slander. Libel and slander are often used interchangeably and inaccurately. The law of libel deals with the invasion of one’s right to privacy. Libel is defamation of a person in writing. If you post on Facebook that your boss is having an affair with his secretary, then you better be able to prove it or he may sue you for libel.
Slander, on the other hand, is defamation via the spoken word. If you have a little too much to drink and announce at the Christmas party that your boss is having an affair with his secretary, then you better be able to prove it or he may sue you for slander. Actually, they can both sue you, but they better do it quick. The statute of limitations in most states is a matter of months, not years.
The next time you are listening to the news and hear someone being defamed, reserve judgment. Wait a few weeks until the facts become more apparent. There are always two sides to a story!