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Definition of Slander

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The definition of slander is generally defamation of a person by oral communications made to or heard by a third party. What separates slander from other types of defamation is that it is performed through oral communication or the spoken word. Slander can be established simply by someone saying defamatory remarks loud enough for others to overhear.

Like other types of defamation, to commit slander one must utter a statement and –

  • The statement must be published, meaning uttered out loud to someone other than the person being slandered
  • The statement must be false
  • The statement must be about the person filing the suit even if they are not named in the statement
  • Whomever the statement is about must have his or her reputation harmed by the statement
  • The person saying the statement must act negligently or with actual malice when publishing the statement (not caring if the statement is false and not trying to find out before publishing it)
  • The statement is not protected under legally recognized privilege.

Definition of Slander Per Se

Most states recognize slander per se, where certain statements are so damaging the actual damage does not have to be proved. Generally, per se statements include –

  • False oral accusations about criminal activity
  • False oral accusations about sexual misconduct or lack of chastity
  • False oral accusations about odious diseases including mental illness, and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as others
  • False oral accusations that cause injury to a profession/business/trade

Definitions of Slander Per Quod

Slander per quod is defined as false statements that cause actual or special damage. In these situations, malice and the special or actual damage must be brought to the attention of the court and proved.

Definition of Slander of Title

Slander of title is, like other forms of defamation –

  • A false published statement
  • A malicious statement
  • That causes actual or special damage

But unlike the other forms of defamation, slander of title has to do with property (usually real estate) when one person –

  • Falsely claims ownership of someone else’s property or
  • Makes false claims of ownership of another’s copyrighted work or
  • Makes false defamatory remarks about another’s property

Though these are general definitions of slander, each state defines slander in its own way. Some states do not recognize slander per se or slander per quod, but do recognize slander of title.

If you have been accused of any of the definitions of slander listed above, it is recommended you seek legal advice.

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