First things first, what is “defamation”?
Defamation is an umbrella term for a false statement of fact that causes someone harm. It is considered a “tort”––a fancy term for a personal injury. Financial, emotional, or physical harm can be the basis for damages. Defamation comes in two forms: libel and slander. The first refers to written defamation while the latter refers to spoken defamation.
But America is a free society, is it not? Whatever happened to freedom of speech?
Yes, our Constitution recognizes our right to free speech. And as a defamation and free speech attorney, Ryan T. Darby is a strong advocate of protecting that right. Defamation laws can have the unintended consequence of silencing people, however. The threat of a frivolous lawsuit may suppress the expression of opinions and beliefs. Opinions are constitutionally protected, and the fear of a lawsuit should not discourage open discourse.
However, problems occasionally occur when opinions are presented like facts to a third party, causing harm to someone’s reputation. If you’ve been falsely or wrongfully accused of defamation, you should get an experienced lawyer like Ryan T. Darby who specializes in defamation law to get the best results.
If You’ve Been Falsely Accused, Can You Fight Back?
Defendants have the best chance if they are represented by an attorney who specializes in defamation law, like Ryan T. Darby. Here are a few defenses he would explore:
Defense #1: Innocence
Did you actually say what you’re accused of saying?
Defense #2: The Opinion Defense
Only false statements of fact are actionable. Opinions are constitutionally protected, and as a practical matter, they cannot be proven true or false. “I think” and “I believe” are good indicators of opinion. This distinction can be tricky sometimes, so it’s important to discuss this with an experienced attorney.
Defense #3: The Truth Defense
Truth is an absolute defense to defamation. If a statement can be proven and regarded as the truth, the case must be dismissed.
Defense #4: The Privilege Defense
There are two different types of privileges one can use as a defense against defamation lawsuit: absolute and qualified. Statements made in court or before a legislative body are protected under absolute privilege.
When you read through these four different ways to defend yourself from a defamation lawsuit, you will probably have some questions. Call Ryan T. Darby at 619-858-4766 to have those questions answered. If you are sure or unsure about whether you have a strong basis for fighting back a defamation lawsuit, don’t be scared to ask. There are numerous ways you can fight back, and you should start sooner than later.