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There are several components required to substantiate a defamation claim. False statements must be made by one person who intended to do harm to another and a third party must have encountered those statements. It is important to realize that winning a defamation suit is generally more difficult for a plaintiff than for a defendant. The plaintiff needs to prove that all of the elements of the offense existed. The defendant, on the other hand, can win by proving that a single element did not exist.
Defamation results when one person makes false statements about another person. These statements can be issued in numerous ways, such as by way of oral communication or by one person publishing information about another on the Internet. If you are a plaintiff, the first thing you will need to prove is that the person you are accusing actually made the statements. If you are a defendant, you may need to argue that you did not disseminate false information about the person accusing you.
Truth is a defense against defamation. This means that you cannot win a defamation suit for facts publicized about you, even if they are private or damaging. You will need, therefore, to show that the statements made about you are false.
As a defendant, there may be several ways to argue this point on your behalf. First, you can prove that although the plaintiff claims the statements made are false, they are actually true. Second, you can argue that you expressed matters of opinion and not matters of fact. The liberties provided by freedom of speech generally protect opinions from liability.
Malice is the intent to do harm. Proving what a person's intentions are is often difficult, but in a defamation suit, it is often necessary for the plaintiff. Offenses such as libel and slander are based on the premise that such information can be hurtful in numerous ways. If you are a plaintiff and you cannot show that the accused wished to hurt you in any way, then you are not likely to win. The defendant can also use the lack of malicious intent for a defensive argument.
Additionally, for a court to rule in favor of the plaintiff in a defamation suit, at least one third party needs to be involved. Even if malicious false statements are made about you, if they are never encountered by anyone except you, your character has not been defamed. For example, say you catch someone writing something bad about you on a bathroom wall and you immediately erase it, then the offense of defamation has not occurred. As a defendant, you can present the lack of evidence to show third party awareness as a challenge to the case.
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