Posted by Defamation Lawyers Perth on August 18, 2023

People can encounter the criminal defamation offence, which falls under Australia’s Criminal Law. Criminal defamation takes place when an individual issues defamatory information to the public on a person to stigmatise their reputation.

People publish such information even when they know the information is false and do it purposely to harm another individual. During such situations, an individual whose reputation is at stake can easily file for defamation.

Individuals who think their reputation has been damaged are known as the “victim”. A person who publishes a false statement is called the “publisher”.

One gets to commit a crime when he/she publishes something in a wrong manner, which dishonours an individual, whether or not the information is wrong or right.

Understanding Defamatory: The Meaning

The Defamation lawyers in Perth WA have defined the word “defamatory” as damaging an individual or a business’s reputation by making a fake statement. A statement or information can be called “defamatory” when:

  • It’s published, which means communicating in a manner to another individual instead of the person who was defamed. 
  • Identified the individual who has been defamed, either indirectly or directly

Besides that, a person makes a defamatory statement against another person so that he/she is avoided, shunned or shamed by other people. It’s also a way to negatively affect an individual’s reputation within the minds of members of society.

Defamatory also means damaging an individual’s professional reputation by saying that he/she lacks the judgement, knowledge, efficiency, skills and qualification in their profession, business or trade.

What Exactly is a Lawful Excuse?

According to the top defamation lawyers in Australia, when a perpetrator is in proceedings for a specific offence, they have a legal excuse for issuing offensive statements about the victim.

This is only possible when the perpetrator has a defence for the publication when the victim has opted for legal proceedings for defamation against the perpetrator.

Some of the defences which are utilised for the issuing of false within the legal proceedings are:

  • Justification: Justifying the defamatory statement is completely true
  • Contextual Truth: Here, accusations arising from the setting of the material are true. 
  • Public Documents: The publication was a fair extract, summary or copy of a particular public document. 
  • Absolute Privilege: This is where the false statement has been issued within the course of the legal proceedings of a specific legislative body.
  • Honest Opinion: The publication was made as an honest opinion, which is based on correct material and a matter of the public interest. 
  • Fair Reporting of the Proceedings of Community Concern: This is a type of public excuse where the statement made by the preparatory was of community concern. 
  • Triviality: here, the publication was made to cause harm.
  • Innocent Diffusion: This is where the individual was an agent or employee of the actual publisher and was not aware that he/she was issuing a defamatory statement/material, and it was because of his/her negligence. 

When a person wishes to defend themselves in a defamation case, they can use “Duress” as their legal defence. Here, one can tell that he/she was threatened with severe harm if they did not engage in their conduct and due to such reasons, they acted out of fear.

When the evidence of the legal defence or legal excuse is brought before the court, it will shift towards the prosecution.

The prosecution will look for a reason to prove that his/her defence or excuse doesn’t apply. But if the prosecution cannot do so, he/she will be viewed as “not guilty”.

What are the Offences of Criminal Defamation?

When an individual sues someone for criminal defamation offence, the perpetrator will receive a penalty of 3 years in prison.

He/she will receive this penalty when they issue a defamatory matter/statement, even when they’re aware that the statement is incorrect and did so to cause harm to that individual.

To make sure that the offence is properly established, the prosecution has to prove the following: 

  • The person issued a matter/statement which was defamatory towards another person.
  • He/she published the statement to cause severe harm to that individual or any person. Otherwise, they were pretty reckless and didn’t know whether or not the statement/material would lead to any serious harm. 
  • He/she knew that the published material was completely fake.
  • There is proof for a lawful excuse, and one did not have any lawful excuse for their conduct.

Criminal Defamation: An Example

Even when one knows how to sue someone for defamation of character, he/she might find it difficult to understand criminal defamation. An illustration can certainly help.

“The King Case is a well-known case related to criminal defamation. In this case, the plaintiff was accused of being an accomplice and supporter of the “Al-Qaeda” terrorist group, which was created by Osama Bin Laden.

The court stated that the offender shows some truth to the allegations by proving all the main matters and facts to give rise to all the sensible grounds of doubt accurately arbitrated. 

The court also stated that all the “strong circumstantial evidence” contributes towards the grounds of suspicion.

The evidence that was provided showed that the plaintiff is suspected of committing a crime, which is a lot more than just a mere scintilla. There should be proper evidence so that the court can provide a proper verdict, especially in the defamation claim.”

How to Make a Claim for Criminal Defamation?

The lawyers of criminal defamation law in Perth have said that one can file for compensation when they have experienced damages because of their tarnished reputation.

Victims will receive a year to file their claim against the individual who made defamatory statements against him/her. But on certain occasions, the time period to file the claim can also be extended. Furthermore, one cannot file for compensation against a deceased individual.

Last Note 

Criminal defamation takes place when an individual publishes a false statement against an individual to damage their reputation. The statement can be made either online or published in a newspaper or magazine.

Individuals who believe that they have been defamed can file for compensation against the publisher. But to make sure that the case proceeding is handled properly, he/she should speak with the criminal defamation lawyers.

They surely offer a detailed explanation of criminal defamation and also tell him/her what they need to do.