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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 20231
Experience:  Handling criminal and probation matters for over 14 years.
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There is a person who is the the prime suspect in 2 hit and

Resolved Question:

There is a person who is the the prime suspect in 2 hit and runs. One in which charges were never filed but the police consider him the prime suspect AND his insurance company settled with the victims. In the other, he was chased down and stopped by witnesses and is currently facing charges. Is it defamation to refer to him on facebook as a "hit and run driver"?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 2 years ago.
Welcome and thank you for your question!

It can be defamation to wrongfully label someone as having committed a crime. This is why newspapers will, instead, use the term "alleged hit and run driver" or "suspected hit and run driver."

They use those words because it gives them legal protection. A FB poster could use the same terms for the same purpose.

It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. It is my goal that you are satisfied. No expert can promise you an answer that is favorable to your circumstances. But I will do my very best to explain the legal principles that are related to the facts you’ve described so that you can better understand the “why” of things.

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK so I have done that. I tried to always use those terms for protection but may have forgotten on a very few occassions.

Do I need to be concerned about small lapses in long threads or is the context more important?

If is obvious to anyone who reads the whole entries that we do not claim he definitely did these things.

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 2 years ago.
In FB, you can now go back and EDIT your entries. So, just go back and re-review them and, where necessary, edit and insert the term "alleged."

You should always be concerned when the term is not used. There's always a risk and it's just not worth it.

What are your options now?

If you wish to continue this conversation, click on the Continue Conversation link.
If you are satisfied that I have answered your question, then please rate the answer with a four or a five so that I receive credit for assisting you. Positive ratings are the only way I receive credit for assisting you today.

IF you feel the need to click either
"Helped a little" or "I expected more," then do not rate me (not yet, anyway!). Instead, reply to me using the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button. Specify what additional information you need and I will be happy to continue further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek.


Thanks,
~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
so you are saying that it is commonplace for people to take single sentences out of context and sue for defamation and that is why it is not worth it?....or just that it is not worth the risk, however small?

Because I am trying to understand if it would be normal for a sentence to be taken out of context for the purposes of a lawsuit.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 2 years ago.
It is human nature for people to take things out of context. Look at any political advertisement and news soundbyte, for example.

As a matter of practicality, it's just not worth the risk or hassle. It's so easy for you to correct it now vs. all the time, money, and energy wasted over a stupid lawsuit.

I hope this helps to clarify things!

What are your options now?

If you wish to continue this conversation, click on the Continue Conversation link.
If you are satisfied that I have answered your question, then please rate the answer with a four or a five so that I receive credit for assisting you. Positive ratings are the only way I receive credit for assisting you today.

IF you feel the need to click either
"Helped a little" or "I expected more," then do not rate me (not yet, anyway!). Instead, reply to me using the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button. Specify what additional information you need and I will be happy to continue further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek.


Thanks,
~~ J.B.
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 20231
Experience: Handling criminal and probation matters for over 14 years.
JB Umphrey and 4 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you

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