Do I have good cause for a defamation/slander case?

Asked 11 months ago - Sacramento, CA

I am a police officer and was accused of DV on an ex-girlfriend. She fabricated the incident which I had evidence to exonerate me. As a result of the alleged DV a TRO was made so I was required to turn in my firearm and could not work. I lost 3 weeks of pay as well as my attorney fees and my reputation at work even though the DV was fabricated and the DA did not file on me. Plus the IA investigation that was a result of the alleged DV. Would I have a good cause for a defamation/slander suit? How would I figure out punitive damages if so?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Christine C McCall

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Heart-breaking situation. As an attorney who has defended police officers against IA complaints and civil claims for years, I fully understand the pain and grief that this has caused you. But a defamation action is not a sound course, I am sorry to say, and could make your situation a great deal worse.

    Public policy so strongly favors the free and uninhibited reporting of crimes by victims (and there is no crime matter where this is more true presently than DV), that complaints to the police are all but wholly privileged. As a practical matter, they are the same as privileged. If you sue, you may spend the next several years having your whole adult life investigated and scrutinized and examined -- in the public record. Old girlfriends, ex-wives, anyone who has ever uttered a word of dislike or a second or third hand bit of gossip or judgment -- they will all be interviewed and invited to pile on. The department may take another look at the original allegations, or at other unrelated matter that comes up (risk free for her -- litigation privilege) in the discovery stages of your civil action. If you say anything wrong, inaccurate, exaggerated, or even unprovable in that case, you may be facing additional administrative investigation and charges.

    The fact that the prosecutor did not file against you is meaningless for your civil liability claim; ditto any exoneration by previous IA investigation.

    There is just nothing worthy to be gained here, and lots and lots at risk. Talk to any experienced PO defense lawyer. Why do you think that cops don't sue after every bogus complaint of brutality and civil rights violations?

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended... more
  2. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . A lawsuit would likely be fruitless

  3. Ajay Mohan Kwatra

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This is far more complicated. There is no way to tell from what you wrote, what all of the facts will bear in a trial. Secondly, if your girlfriend has no assets then what is the use of suing her? Call your local county bar association for a list of attorneys that you can consult with on your various issues. Good luck!

  4. Herb Fox

    Contributor Level 16

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Ms. McCall's advice is spot on. I would only add that a defamation suit will likely expose you to something called an anti-SLAPP motion which, if granted, will require you to pay her attorneys fees for defending herself.

    This law firm handles appeals in all appellate courts throughout California (except bankruptcy, unemployment and... more
  5. Michael R Varble, Esq.

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Difficult to say based on what you presented in this question. You need to consult an attorney about it. Statements made in litigation are normally privileged and not subject to a defamation lawsuit.

    The information provided herein is for informational purposes and should not be construed to establish an attorney... more

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