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Could someone have a case for slander against me?

Cleveland, OH |

I recently made a poor decision to email someone from an ex's Facebook account. In the email I did state my name as well as several (true) but derogatory comments about my ex, n some rude but non threatening comments to the recipient. It was the only contact I made with the recipient ever. The recipient lives out of state and has never met me and vise versa. I also included the link to a website profile of said ex which I came across, that states said ex is homosexual and includes faceless nude photographs. The recipient has stated they filed charges but I'm not realy even sure, they'd have a strong enough case against me??

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Attorney answers 4


By definition, slander is verbal defamation, whereas libel is written defamation. Will someone be able to successfully bring a libel claim against you? Truth is an absolute defense to defamation, so if the comments you made were true, you have nothing to worry about.

Furthermore, defamation is a civil, not criminal action, so someone can't "file charges" in a civil action.

Finally, a statement can be defamatory only if it is published to a third person. Here, you said rude things to the email recipient, but the defamation cause of action wouldn't belong to the recipient, it would belong to your ex (should your comments be untrue and defamatory).

Disclaimer: This does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been formed through this answer.


I am not admitted in OH (only in CA), so I can only provide a sort of general response.

In general, all defamation actions (slander is a type of defamation) require these elements:
(1) a false and defamatory statement concerning another;
(2) publication of the statement, without privilege, to a third party;
(3) fault on the part of the publisher, amounting at least to negligence, in ascertaining whether the statement is true or false; and
(4) special damages.
[Restatement 2d, Torts § 558]

Typically speaking, an "aggrieved party" must prove actual falsity of the statement and knowledge by the "speaker" of the falsity of the statement, which can be hard to prove, if there is any aspect that is true. It's the old adage that "truth is an absolute defense."

Also, and this may be important in your case, if the statements made are merely "opinions", they are protected. (For example, there's a difference between saying "I think that guy is a crook" and saying "that guy is a felon." In the first instance you may be stating an opinion, where the 2nd example, if false, could be defamatory.)

The 3rd issue to address is damages: it's often hard to show actual damages resulting from the publication. In your case, the other party would have to show what damages were suffered as a result of the statements.

Now there is also an issue about possible invasion of privacy, based on the posting of a means of viewing naked photos of the ex, but since those were apparently already "public" because of the website link, that may not really be an issue after all.

In the end, if there have been any charges "filed" against you, consult with a local criminal lawyer. If you have concerns as far as civil liability, I'd suggest discussing this with local civil defense lawyer.

Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.


Truth is a complete defense to a defamation lawsuit.

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"Filing charges" usually refers to making a criminal complaint. Slander is not criminal in nature, it is civil. I suggest you may benefit from reading the Legal Guide I have published on which deals with defamation issues.

Legal Disclaimer:

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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.