Slander, defamation and insult

The slander offends the honor of a citizen’s accuse him of a crime, defamation attacks the target honor someone who is reputation, and insult the honor subjective, concerning the qualities of the subject.

Both slander and defamation and insult are crimes against the honor of the people. They are legally established by the penal code and are subject to sanctions, such as imprisonment and fines.

Although these three concepts are usually considered crimes against the honor of the person, in countries like Venezuela slander differs because it is considered a crime against the administration of justice . This is because the legal system has been put into operation unnecessarily.

SlanderDefamationInsult
ConceptFalse accusation of an innocent person to the authorities.Dissemination of false information that affects the honor of another person.Publication of a false value judgment that threatens the reputation of another person.
Main objectiveCause a legal penalty on the accused.Damaging the image of the accused.Offending the accused.
ExamplesA woman who falsely accuses her partner to the police of having mistreated her.A person who tells his neighbor that Juan is a thief for having stolen something from a store, even if it is not true.Juan tells a colleague that Ana is a prostitute, without having proof of it.

What is slander?

Slander is accusing a person of a crime that he has not committed in front of judicial authorities .

If the person is aware that the accusation he is making is false, he is committing the crime of slander.

Slander is part of crimes against honor in some countries such as Brazil, and in other countries such as Venezuela it is considered a crime against the administration of justice.

Therefore, for the slander to be considered as such, it is essential that the complaint be made before the pertinent authorities, either within the judicial system or before public officials who have the responsibility of transmitting the complaint.

This type of crime can carry a penalty of six to thirty months in prison depending on the penal code of each country.

What is libel?

Defamation is the act of damaging the dignity , honor or reputation of another natural or legal person by spreading information that is not true.

When the intention of the accusation is to expose the person to hatred or public contempt, the crime of defamation is being incurred.

Unlike slander, defamation should not be taken to the judicial authorities to be finalized. By simply spreading the accusation of the false crime with the intention of causing harm, defamation is being incurred.

This crime can be punished with imprisonment and payment of fines.

What is injury?

Injury is a crime where one of the parties says something that is directly dishonorable and harmful to the other party, such as calling him a thief.

When we speak of injury it is because a value judgment is formulated where a person has been publicly dishonored, discredited or offended without having proof of what is said.

The crime of injury is characterized by attributing actions not actually committed by the person using epithets and offensive language .

This crime can also be punishable by law with imprisonment and the payment of fines.

Examples of slander, libel, and insult

Slander, libel and insult can be committed at the same time. For example, in a debate on television during a presidential campaign, one of the candidates said that the opponent committed a crime, without proof of what happened, and used derogatory words to refer to the attitude of the other candidate.

In this case, it would be slander for publicly spreading the information, defamation for the attack on the image of the other candidate, and insult due to the insults pronounced directly against the person involved, who was the adversary in the debate.

Difference between crimes against honor and moral damages

The main difference between crimes against honor and moral damages is in which court is going to endorse the process.

Slander, defamation and insult are crimes and are provided for in the penal code of many countries. Anyone who commits any of the three can go to jail and is tried by a criminal council.

Non-pecuniary damages are part of civil law, are liable to financial compensation and are judged by a civil council. But the defendant in this type of process is not arrested.

It can happen that a slander accusation turns into a moral damages process. After being tried as a criminal process, and sentenced to a certain time in prison, it is possible that the accusation also becomes a civil process, with a request for compensation for moral damages. Thus, there are two processes, judged by two different forums.

The moral damages are situations that harm the morality of a person. Compensation for non-pecuniary damage implies a judicially requested reparation for personal attacks that threaten the physical integrity of the person.

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