Defamation can be a criminal or civil offense. It is a false statement that harms another persons’ reputation by decreasing the respect, regard or confidence in which the person is held. Disparaging or hostile opinions are also considered defamation.
According to Florida law, there are two different types of defamation: libel and slander. Libel refers to written or printed defamation, and slander usually refers to spoken defamation. However, today most Courts will treat defamatory statements on television, radio, or the internet as libel.
The law treats libel and slander differently because libel is more permanent by its very nature. Traditionally, plaintiffs have been able to recover for libel without proof of special damages (harm to reputation or actual harm).
In order for a statement to be defamatory, it must:
– Be false: Truth is always a complete defense against libel
– Be “Of and Concerning” the Plaintiff: This issue usually arises in fictional and satirical accounts.
– Be “published.” The defendant’s communication of the defamatory statement to a person other than the person being defamed is considered publication in a defamation suit.
Defamation law can be very complicated. There are many defenses to defamation and many instances when it does not apply, such as litigation privilege. Be careful what you say, especially in print. If you feel that someone is defaming you or you are being sued for defamation, contact Boyer Law Firm’s civil litigation attorneys today.