What Is The Standard of Actual Malice That Comes To Play In a Libel Suit?

Defamation Demand Letters What Is The Standard of Actual Malice That Comes To Play In a Libel Suit?

What Is The Standard of Actual Malice That Comes To Play In a Libel Suit?

Defamation is a crime committed against another, where the affected individual may be eligible for substantial monetary compensation. When a person makes false or injurious claims about another person, this is defamation and, so long as it has caused some kind of financial, reputational, or personal harm.

In establishing a case of defamation, the plaintiff must first show which of the two types of defamation occurred — slander or libel. In a case of slander, the defamation has been spoken aloud or otherwise gestured in a non-written way. In a case of libel, the defamation has been written or posted in a permanent format.

If you have been defamed, it is recommended that you take steps towards sending a “cease and desist” letter, warning the defaming individual of legal action. Continue reading to learn about the legal avenues available to you, and certain burdens of proof you’ll have to validate — like actual malice.

What is Defamation?

When you’ve been sued, the first action you must take In accordance with your local state laws is to define your type of defamation and its extent. Between the two forms of defamation, there are a few key distinguishing factors.

Separating Slander and Libel

  • Defamation can be a case of either slander or libel
    • Libel is recognized in its permanent characters, such as an email, radio or TV broadcast, newspaper article, or posting
    • By contrast, slanderous statements do not have a permanent record, so they may be anything from a gesture to a spoken statement
  • Now that you have established what kind of defamation has occurred, you can continue with proving your claim by sending a cease and desist letter to the defendant

Understanding Actual Malice

  1. Actual malice exists when public figures are attempting to sue for defamation
  2. This term covers the uniquely tailored burden of proof that public figures have to prove in order for their defamation suit to progress
  3. This law caters towards the freedom of the press and free speech laws

What Is As A Public Person?

Generally, when we think of a public figure we visualize a celebrity or important political consultant, enthralled deeply in governmental and public affairs. Truthfully, this assumption is far from reality — anyone who is involved in public life or service can be considered a public figure. 

Public figures often include:

  • Celebrities
  • Business Owners and Leaders
  • Politicians
  • Public Service Workers
  • Anyone involved in a public controversy or industry that is considered a “limited purpose particular public figure” with relation to a set of issues or realities
    • For instance, a small-time basketball (NBA) player is covered under matters that concern their ability to play basketball, but big-time players who are “celebrities” like Lebron James are considered full public figures and thus need their own protection

Why Is It So Hard To Win?

  • In order to drive a successful case, typically a public figure must prove that the publisher of the statements or defamation against them acted in “actual malice”
  • This is a term used to define the fact that whoever published the statements knew the statements they published were false but acted with disregard for that
  • It is extremely difficult for the typical public figure to prove this as it is a subjective clause of the law

The Steps to Proving Actual Malice

The reality is; actual malice is subjective. To preface, these are the standard grounds required to prove the knowledge and existence of it:

The Defendant Knew The Statement They Issued Was False The defendant knew the truth behind the statements and disregarded whether they were credible or not.
The Defendant Acted In A Subjective and Partial Manner The defendant chose to publish the statements with no regard for the objective harm or reality of the situation.
The Partial Actions Were Equate to Malice and Thus “Actual Malice” Existed The defendant’s actions were equal to malice, or intentional slander at the expense of knowing the truth behind a public figure’s life.

Should You Write A Cease and Desist Letter If You Are A Public Figure — Will This Help Your Actual Malice Case?

  • Irrespective of your status, a cease and desist letter is the safest option for anyone who is dealing with slander or libel.
  • To file a cease and desist letter, you must be sure of the conditions and legality surrounding your case.
  • Also, consider the reality of the current legal industry — many lawyers charge large fees for legal advice and writing letters, so evaluate whether you’d be prepared for that sad alternative, or whether services like DoNotPay can help!

Draft a Cease and Desist Letter As A Public Figure in Minutes!

DoNotPay is a thorough solution to the problem of defamation, regardless of your individual status! The Cease and Desist letter DoNotPay drafts typically detail the information about the case, demand retraction, warn against future statements, and will order that the accused abides by your local state statutes.

All you need to do is:

1. Search Defamation on DoNotPay.


2. Tell us about your situation:

    • Were the statements slander or libel?
    • What were the statements?
    • Why are they false or misleading?
    • What consequences have you suffered as a result of these statements?


3. Based on your location, DoNotPay will immediately generate a formal demand letter on your behalf, with the most relevant state legislation regarding defamation.

That’s it! You can expect a comprehensively drafted cease and desist letter to your case, instantly! 

What Else Can DoNotPay Do?

DoNotPay doesn’t stop at helping you write cease and desist letters. The AI-powered robot lawyer can help you with day-to-day issues such as cancellation of subscriptions, tax exemptions, appealing of parking tickets, and so much more with just a few clicks! Take a look at what else we can offer:

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