Defamation of character

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Defamation of character

A lady filed a restraing order on me claiming that I threatened by email and scratched her car.On the court hearing she mentioned that under oath but she gave no evidence when the judge asked her to do so.all she spent her time to say that she is scared of me.RO was granted.Can i file for defation of charector of what said without evidence and that caused emotional damage for me.I am treatetid for that psychological damage.

Asked on June 21, 2009 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you feel you were defamed--that untrue derogatory statements were made about you--you can bring a defamation action. The big issue is proof. When you are the one suing, the burden of proof is on you to establish that the woman made defamatory statements, but she can defend herself by proving they were true. So, you need to ask yourself what proof you have, and also what proof she might have.

If her claim was that you sent her threatening emails, then if she can't actually produce the emails, you have a leg up. If she claims verbal threats, then it turns into "he said, she said"--and probably sympathy would be on the side of a woman who has in fact obtained a RO. What about the scratch--is there a scratch on her car? If so, and she has any reason to think you might have done it, it would be hard to prove that she intentionally or knowingly made a false statement, which is part of defamation.

Remember that winning a lawsuit is never guaranteed, except in the MOST clear cut cases (really, not even then, but at least the odds are heavily on your side), but that defamation is actually one of the least clear cut instances. But even though winning is not a guarantee, you *will* have to pay legal fees and court costs to bring the case.

Also, note that proving psychological damage can be difficult and expensive, involving expert witnesses, and the like.

So this is a case where yes, if you were defamed, you can sue, but you should take a deep breath and ask yourself whether it truly is worth it, or whether simply walking away from the situation, as unfair and painful as that may seem, is in fact the best thing to do.


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