Nevada Defamation Laws & Standards
Nevada Defamation Definition
The legal definition of defamation, in Nevada and the rest of the United States, involves more than just a negative statement. To win defamation lawsuits, plaintiffs must prove that their respective defendants:
- Made a false, unprivileged statement of fact;
- Caused material or reputational harm by making the contested statement;
Libel is written defamation; slander is spoken defamation.
Nevada’s History of Criminal Defamation
In the not too distant past, Nevada was one of the few states with criminal defamation statutes on the books. Depending on the circumstances, violators could be slapped with a defamation gross misdemeanor charge, which carried a possible 1-year jail sentence and / or a $2,000 fine.
The law criminally disallowed:
“malicious defamation … tending to blacken the memory of the dead, or impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue or reputation, or to publish the natural defects of a living person, or community of persons, or association of persons, and thereby expose them to public contempt or ridicule.”
But in 1998, federal U.S. District Judge Johnnie Rawlinson, via a case involving the Nevada Press Association, declared the state’s crimindal defamation statute unconstitutional.
What Plaintiffs Must Prove To Win Nevada Defamation Claims
For a statement to be defamatory, in 99% of cases, it must be false (yes, there are a smattering of exceptions). Opinions are not actionable, however, it’s important to remember that what one person considers an opinion, another can interpret as a statement of fact. As a result, the “I was only stating my opinion” defense doesn’t always work.
A “mixed” declaration — containing both fact and opinion — can also be actionable if false and defamatory facts underpin the statement of opinion.
To win, there must be “clear and convincing evidence” or “convincing clarity” that the person referenced in the contested statement is the plaintiff.
Plaintiffs must prove that the statement under review caused material or reputational harm. In some cases, “harm” is implied. Speak to an attorney about the specifics of your case; he or she can review your specific circumstances and determine whether or not you would have to prove harm.
Nevada Defamation Damages
Common law establishes that a defamation claim can only be brought if damages stem from the fabricated statement. In Nevada, defamation claims can be presumed to cause harm if they fall within one of four categories, known collectively as defamation per se:
- Criminal Accusations;
- Certain Health Accusations;
- Accusations of Moral Turpitude;
- Accusations of Professional Incompetence.