Defamation of character is often a term used in a legal context to describe situations regarding slander, libel, or a combination of both. However, both slander and libel are considered to be statements or forms of communication that are made for the purpose of causing harm by portraying a person, country, business, product, or government in a negative manner. In the case of defamation of character, the accusations of libel, slander, or both are in regards to a particular person.
Legal Applications – Defamation of character accusations will involve issues of slander or libel, in which the false and damaging statements are made in verbal form through slander, or in written form through libel.
In the United States, such accusations, upon being deemed as true by the courts, are punishable by law. Typically speaking, lawsuits involving defamation of character are made to seek compensation for any damages incurred by the derogatory and false statements made by another individual or party.
Issues with Defamation of Character – One of the main concerns revolving around defamation of character is the fact that they have been notoriously known to be quite difficult to prove in a court of law.
Even if the effects of the defamatory comments or statements are evident and substantial, the plaintiff must provide for substantial and compelling evidence that the defendant not only made such comments, but the comments are also false and done with the intention of causing some sort of harm or injury.
Another constantly debated issue in regards to defamation of character arises from a Constitutional perspective. In accordance to the First Amendment, free speech is a natural right that is afforded and protected by the United States Constitution. Though this has been an aspect which has been debated, it is generally agreed that a defamation of character accusation does not violate First Amendment rights.
Defamation of Character Lawsuits – As mentioned, winning a defamation of character lawsuit has been proven to be a difficult task. However, it should be noted that most defamation of character cases or accusations will rarely enter the courts as a formal complaint or lawsuits.
Typically, the involved parties will usually settle outside of the courts. This is common, particularly when at least one of the involved parties is widely and socially recognized, such as a celebrity or famous actor.
Defamation of character disputes and lawsuits will prove to be most commonly presented in the entertainment industry, most notoriously involving the media and tabloid publications. Even though defamation of character, by definition, consists of false statements, the accusation can also apply in situations even the statements made are factual. If a truthful statement is made, but is done with ill intentions, it can sometimes be considered as defamation of character in certain situations.
NEXT: Libel vs. Slander