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The ABCs of Dealing With Domestic Violence

Domestic violence was a part of my family's life for years. When I made the decision to leave with my children, I had to rely on the law to provide the protection we needed. Sometimes, the system does not work as fast as we want. I soon learned that going at it alone without any guidance caused significant delays. I created this blog to help others who are seeking legal means to deal with an abusive ex. By making the right moves, it is possible to get the necessary protections in place so that you can also live a happier and healthier life.

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The ABCs of Dealing With Domestic Violence

How Is Defamation Different From False Light Portrayal?

by Gina Hill

What does it mean if you are accused of portraying another person in a false light? Is it the same as defamation? Both of these are things that cause harm to the reputation because they entail spreading false or misleading information about the victim. Since they are nearly the same thing, some states do not treat them as separate legal issues. However, for those states that recognize their separation, the typical differences include the following:

Size of the Audience

Both defamation and false light portrayal involve publishing misleading or false information about another person. You can be accused of defamation even if only one person read or heard your false statement. However, false light accusations only stem from the publication of misleading statements made to the public at large.

For example, lying about a colleague when you are only with your boss may be considered defamation. However, your boss may instigate a false light lawsuit against you if you make the same statement to a group of people at a soccer game.

Offense

Whether or not the false statement is offensive also matters when it comes to differentiating between these legal issues. Defamation laws are meant to safeguard a person's reputation. Therefore, if you make a false statement that can ruin a person's reputation, then you may be charged with defamation even if the statement isn't offensive. 

Consider a case in which you claim that a colleague belongs to a certain religious affiliation that does not work on a particular day of the week. This may not be an offensive statement, but if it is false, it may cause the colleague to miss job opportunities that involve working on that day of the week. This means you may be charged with defamation.

Truth as a Defense

The other difference is that truth is an absolute defense to defamation, but not to false light accusations. By definition, defamation is the publication of false statements about a person. Therefore, if you can prove that the statements you published are true, you escape the charge of defamation.

This is in contrast to false light, which involves the publication of misleading information, which isn't necessarily false. Therefore, publishing misleading information, even if it is true, can still get you into trouble if you are accused of defamation.

As you can see, state laws have a lot to say when it comes to the distinction and treatment of defamation and false light cases. Therefore, don't make any assumptions before scrutinizing your state's laws on these issues. Better yet, hire a personal injury lawyer to help you navigate the case.

For a personal injury lawyer, contact a law firm such as Geoffrey S. Gulinson & Associates PC.

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