Suing Police for Defamation of Character
Although the police are meant to enforce the law and keep people safe, we know they aren’t immune to making mistakes. Cases of defamation are no different. Despite the police’s status, civil actions against them are perfectly possible. In this article, we’ll break down how you can pursue justice for defamation when it comes to the police!
Understanding Defamation and It's Legal Intricacies
The first step to enforcing defamation laws against the police is to have a clear and concise understanding of what it exactly is.
- Defamation can be understood as the publication of false statements which can damage the reputation of an individual. This does not necessarily mean written publication (on paper) and can include any statement that was seen or heard by a third party.
- Defamation itself is considered a civil offense, although in some states it can be criminally prosecuted. Most defamation civil suits end with monetary compensation.
- There are two kinds of defamation:
Can I Sue the Police for Damaging My Reputation?
Police are protected by many laws, but this does not mean you don’t have the right to file a lawsuit for defamation of character against the police. If the police made a false arrest, invaded your privacy, or violated your arrest and defamatory statements were involved, you can pursue legal action. Here’s what you’ll need to prove:
|Criteria for Proving Defamation||Explanation|
|The statement must be false||Whatever the defamatory statement, it can only be considered defamatory if it was not true. This means that if someone said something true about you, you cannot sue them for defamation - no matter the personal damages faced.|
|It must be an unprivileged statement||In law, certain statements are considered “privileged” and cannot be used against someone. This includes statements that have been made within a court of law, either by witnesses, lawmakers, or attorneys. To prove a defamatory statement, it must have been made outside of a privileged situation.|
|You must prove malice||Private figures must prove negligence, while public figures must prove malice. Police officers are considered public officials, so you must be able to prove their defamatory remarks were made with “actual malice”
Negligence: means that the statement was made recklessly, without the consideration or investigation into the truth.
Malice: means that the statement was published deliberately with full knowledge of its falsehood and it was meant to cause damage to the person's reputation.
|Damages||Proof of damages is necessary to make the statement defamatory. If the statement cannot be proven to have caused damage to your reputation it cannot help you in a defamation lawsuit.|
Can I Request the Police to Take Back Defamation?
Filing an actual lawsuit is a big decision - not only does it involve a considerable amount of legal expenses, but it can also be a draining process. If you want to seek a resolution without filing a lawsuit, we recommend that you send a cease and desist letter to the police before taking any legal action.
This is how it works:
- A cease-and-desist letter contains an explanation of the statement which you have found to be defamatory and an exact description of how this statement has cost damages to you.
- Ideally, the letter requests that there are no further defamatory statements made against you and explains that you are willing to take legal action in the form of a lawsuit if this does not happen.
- The letter must be drafted formally and sent to the person who made the defamatory statement directly.
- The good thing about a cease and desist letter is that it does not require the services of an attorney. It would not only save you the legal fees but it could also potentially resolve the issue, and remove the need for a lawsuit altogether. Note that this is not the same as a cease and desist order.
How DoNotPay Can Help You Write a Defamation Cease and Desist Letter in Minutes!
Standing up to authority figures can be an intimidating but necessary step when it comes to defending your character against defamation. DoNotPay can help you draft a personalized cease and desist letter quickly and conveniently. Here’s how it works:
1. Search “Defamation” on DoNotPay and select the Defamation Demand Letters service.
2. Briefly explain the defamation issue you wish to resolve, as well as any details that you think might be relevant about the case - be as specific as possible.
3. According to your location, DoNotPay will be able to draft a formal cease and desist defamation letter based on all the relevant defamation laws of your state!
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
DoNotPay doesn’t stop at helping you write cease and desist letters. Take a look at what else we can offer:
- Sue robo callers
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- Draft a non-disclosure agreement
- Request chargebacks and refunds
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- Get airline refunds and services