What Are Defamation of Character and Slander?

By Jeannie Knudson
Victims, defamation, character, compensation

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Defamation of character is when one party makes untrue statements that may be malicious or accusatory about another person. In order for the action to be identified as defamation of character, the actions must harm or be intended to harm another person.

Comparisons

Two types of defamation of character include libel and slander. Libel involves written defamatory statements while slander includes damaging and untrue remarks that are spoken.

Facts

Defamation of character must cause harm to the victim. The action may cause reputation, financial, mental, or physical harm.

Recourse

Depending on the situation, victims of defamation of character may file charges and sue for damages. The defamatory statements must be false for a valid lawsuit.

Considerations

Journalists have some protection against libel if they give a fair and accurate account of the situation. Additionally, some expressions targeting public figures are not defamation. Generally, if the defamatory remark is about the public figure's public life rather than his or her private life, it is not considered defamation of character.

Exception

An exception to defamation is satire. If the derogatory remarks are demonstrated as humor, parody, or irony, they are not considered slanderous.

About the Author

Jeannie Knudson is an avid traveler with a love for the written word. She has been a freelance writer for over 15 years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from the University of Northern Iowa. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences on eHow and Travels.com.

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