Libel and slander are in the news these days after the publication of a book about President Donald Trump’s White House. Slander and libel are important laws in Chicago. Writing or saying things about someone that are not true and that cause them to suffer any damage can lead to a significant fine. You will need competent lawyers to represent you in court in you are charged with these crimes.
Recently, there has been concern that some people are abusing the libel laws in order to avoid being scrutinized for their actions. An example is when college students who had suffered sexual assault felt that they could not report or talk about the cases just because the alleged perpetrators could sue for libel and slander. The leading case on these issues is Troman v. Wood.
How Does the Law Operate?
According to the statutes in Chicago, there must be proof that something that is untrue was said or written about another person. This rule is balanced by the principle of freedom of speech. For example, the courts will not allow a person or institution to gag the press when they are raising an issue that is of public interest. No crime is committed if everything that is written is true and can be proved.
The other main requirement is that the things that have been written must have caused some sort of injury or damage to the alleged victim. There must be a reputation that has been destroyed or damaged. For example, if someone was publicly convicted of armed robbery, calling him or her a thief is not libel even if the crime for which they were convicted is not technically referred to as theft.
The Law in Chicago on Defamation and Libel
The provisions of the legislative instrument number 740 ILCS 165/1 set out the basic criteria for libel and defamation in Chicago. There are certain conditions that must be fulfilled in order that an action may be considered to be libel or defamation. These are some of the important things to remember.
- The awards in the lawsuit are only to cover the actual injury suffered by the victim. It is not about using the court to get excessive amounts of money or to take revenge on legitimate critics. Defamation relates to making, uttering, or transmitting a false statement to a third party in such a way as to harm the victim. You cannot commit defamation by talking to yourself or the person that you are accusing of something.
- Slander is verbal, but defamation is written. You commit slander by talking about something and defamation by writing something. These definitions also include government slander.
- The courts will always prioritize free speech over any personal concerns about defamation. That is one of the reasons why so many defamation lawsuits end up failing.
- The courts will always consider whether there is substantial truth in the statement that has been made. If that criterion is met, then no defamation is committed. This is one of the issues in sexual assault cases.
- There is also a provision for those who fall victim to innocent construction. It is possible that the defaming words or articles were not intended to defame but were only misinterpreted by third parties.
Help for Those Facing Defamation and Slander Lawsuits
These lawsuits are often brought about as an intimidating tactic. You need to contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law at telephone number 312-560-7100 at the earliest opportunity for advice about proof and the court procedures.
(image courtesy of Kristina Flour)