Can I sue for slander if I was in jail for aggravated assaultbut someone is spreading the rumor that it was for child molestation?

UPDATED: Jan 28, 2011

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Can I sue for slander if I was in jail for aggravated assaultbut someone is spreading the rumor that it was for child molestation?

I was in custody (non-bondable) for 5 months pending an aggravated assault trial. The case against me was fully dismissed before the trial. Since my release I have had at least 5 people (who just happen to be friends of mine) tell me that this person was/is saying the reason I was in jail is because of sex with minors/rape/underage molestation. Absolutely untrue. I am 25, I have a very social, active, professional life and my reputation is very important to me. I even had to correct a friend’s girlfriend 2 days ago because she thought it was true. What options do I have here? Punitive damages?

Asked on January 28, 2011 under Personal Injury, Arizona


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Defamation or "defamation of character," is spoken or written words that falsely and negatively reflect on a person's reputation.  Slander is oral (i.e. spoken) defamation. If the false statements, gossip, or groundless accusations ends up affecting your employment status or seriously damages your reputation, you may have grounds for an actionable claim. 

However, not every false or nasty statement or rumor constitutes an actionable claim.  In order to prove slander in AZ, you have to prove that what was said about you:

  • Was false (if the information is true you will not have a case);
  • Was communicated to a third party;
  • Was either intentionally or negligently made; and
  • Caused a real and irreparable harm or public humiliation.

Right now, based upon the facts that you have presented it appears that you should consult with a personal attorney in your area as to your specific situation.  In AZ, you have 1 year in which to file a laswuit for defamation (slander).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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