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Can you press charges against someone for making false accusations?

South Bend, IN |

A person I know is going around telling people false things about me including the police. Can I press charges against this person? they have no proof in what they are saying about me.

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

Based on your brief statement of facts, you may have a civil claim for “defamation” against the person who is “making false accusations” about you, although your attorney would need more information before competently deciding whether you have a case.

In Washington State, when someone makes a false statement to another person and this causes harm to that person’s reputation and good name, the law calls this “defamation.” There are two types of defamation, slander (spoken) and libel (written).

There are various defenses to defamation. If a complete defense applies, it means the plaintiff (aggrieved party) cannot recover against the defendant (allegedly at-fault party). In Washington State, there are two commonly recognized defenses to defamation: “truth” and “mere opinion.” Here, people are allowed to speak the truth or express their opinions, as long as they do so in a way that does not imply to a reasonable person the existence of underlying facts.

As a potential plaintiff in a civil action, you have the burden of proving each part of your defamation case on a more likely than not basis. Even if you are successful in proving that someone made false statements about you to another person, you still do not have a case until you allege and prove that these false statements actually caused you a specific type of harm.

While, generally speaking, a plaintiff in a defamation action must prove that the defamation caused them to suffer from a specific type of harm, there are certain instances where Washington State Courts will assume the fact (but not extent) of damages if the false statement made to another person contains allegations that the Plaintiff had a loathsome disease, engaged in sexual misconduct, committed a serious felony, or engaged in shady business practices.

If the defendant makes harmful and false accusations to law enforcement and this leads to the institution of unjustifiable criminal proceedings against you, and if these proceedings are terminated in your favor and brought with malice and without probable cause, you could also have a claim for “Malicious Criminal Prosecution.”

As with any legal matter, you should strongly consider consulting with an attorney in your state before the Statute of Limitations (SOL) runs out on your claim(s). In Washington State, the SOL for oral defamation is two years; the SOL in your state may be different, so you or your attorney should determine what the SOL is in your state.

Note: I am not your attorney and the above answer is not a substitute for legal advice. As with any legal matter, you are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel from an attorney licensed in your state.

Asker

Posted

I am just curious. I used to reside in Tucson, Arizona which is Pima County. I spent time in jail and was release by the judge under five years of probation. Later on while I was serving my probation, I decided to turn myself in to immigration because I am not a u.s. citizen but a green card holder. My probation turned me in to INS and later on I saw an article in the internet after I was deported that I ran from my probation and was now a fugitive. Can I file a law suit against the local news paper and the probation officer who gave false information. I would greatly appreciate it if you would reply to this comment. Thank you very much.

Joel Daniel Matteson

Joel Daniel Matteson

Posted

Based on the limited information you provided, nobody can say for certain whether you have a viable cause of action for defamation. For one, your lawyer would need to know why the officer stated that you "ran from probation." If this was a reasonable interpretation of what happened, there may be no defamation. Second, even if you prove that the newspaper and/or probation officer were "negligent" (make an unreasonable mistake) in stating that you ran from probation, the burden is still on you to state with reasonable certainty what the extent of your damages are. Finally, states differ regarding the amount of time that someone has to bring a defamation cause of action. This is called the "Statute of Limitations." You should consult with a lawyer to determine whether you can make out a claim for defamation, whether your damages are enough to warrant the often great expense of bringing a claim, and whether the Statute of Limitations has expired. Best of luck.

Posted

Under Indiana law words to a third person, whether written (libel) or orally (slander) which impute to another the commission of a crime or tend to injure another in his profession or business are known as per se slander or libel and do not required proof of any special damages (that is, damages are presumed).

I would be happy to discuss your specific case in more detail at no cost to you.

Asker

Posted

Can you help me? I was fired from my position with the South Bend Community School Corporation when they found out I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. They presented lies about me to the school board, to the unemployment offices, to the SB Human Rights Commission and the EEOC in Indy.....This small group of administrators (none supervisors) have ruined my life because of their malicious lies about me to push me out of their school system. Can you help me?

Posted

It depends on what they're saying. If they're saying you committed a crime and that's false, it may be actionable. If it was a complaint to the police, it's a crime.

I'd suggest you contact an Indiana lawyer to discuss this. Slander is a tricky field of law, with strict rules and possibly a short statute of limitations.

DISCLAIMER - THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS CREATED. THIS IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

Posted

On the prosecutor can press criminal charges but your my file a civil action for defemation of charactor. Talk to a local attorny that deals with defemation and slander and then decide your action.

NOTE: These above statement is an opinion based upon the facts given in a question and should not be seen as legal advise. To obtain legal advise consult with an attorney of your choosing.

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