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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27127
Experience:  16 yrs. of experience including criminal law.
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In February my boyfriend, Jake was incarcerated on a drug related

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In February my boyfriend, Jake was incarcerated on a drug related charge. The crime was reported in the local news paper and it was reported incorrectly to the point that it has now caused more damage to his reputation in this very small town than he had done himself by the crime he did commit (and as a result he has moved away because he will never be able to get a job here). So we are living 2 hours away from each other and I cannot afford to move there right now. He had never been in trouble before and his trouble is a result of drug addiction. Possession of prescription drugs. :(

I do not use drugs and do not allow this in my home. (just a side note).

This situation has really created a lot of turmoil in our lives. We are considering filing a libel/defamation suit against the local newspaper. This money would help us relocate and start over in another town after the terrible things that have been said. Is it difficult to pursue this action. Are the monetary amount and the chance of winning such a case worth hiring an attorney?

Thank you in advance for you help and time on this matter.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the chance to assist on this matter. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience in criminal law.

Defamation is defined as a false statement communicated to another person that damages your reputation by exposing you to hatred, contempt, or ridicule from other people. Libel is communicating a defamatory statement by writing or picture. Slander is defamation by oral or spoken communication.

So if the newspaper printed false information about him? And that harmed his reputation? That would, indeed, be libel.

And he could sue the newspaper for any harm suffered.

For example, if they lied about him and he had to move and still can not get a job because of the lie? He would have a great case.

But he has to prove the lie.

He has to prove the paper lied about him What you describe, he has a great case on damages.

But he has to prove the lie.

He has to prove the paper lied about his involvement.

If he can do this? I think he has a good case.

NOTE: the statute of limitations for libel is 1 year...you must file within one year of the publication





Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I will tell you what was printed. This is going to sound horrible. Please keep in mind he is a good man who became addicted to alcohol and drugs. :(


 


He had a physical altercation with a man outside of a Walmart store and was arrested, the man was also a customer at Walmart--just as he was. The newspaper printed that he "assaulted a Walmart clerk who was trying to stop him from leaving the store with stolen merchandise" THAT did not happen and would be easily proven as false as it is not the truth and undocumented. I'm not even sure where it came from.


 


Another article says that I called the police when I noticed my jewelry missing. That is also untrue. I called the police because I noticed he was high and that is absolutely unacceptable in our home and he and I agreed that I would call if ever I believed he was high. I did mention that I thought I had a watch missing, but that is not why I called.


 


The 2 articles make him sound like a theif...he is not. Being an addict (I am also a former addictions counselor) is a difficult things to overcome....adding the stigma of a theif in print (when it is UNTRUE) is cruel for someone who is working to repair their life. There should be repercussion for this.


 


What kind of damages are recovered for a case like this from a small local paper, are you able to offer a ball park figure?


 


Again thank you. Your previous answer was very helpful. I was not aware of the statute of limitations on libel action.

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Damages are what you can prove.

They can be tough to prove in some cases...example, your neighbor gossips about you and others in the neighbor regard you with suspicion...that is slander, but the damages may not warrant the trouble of a lawsuit.

But change the facts a bit...say the lies cost you to loose a high paying job...suddenly the damages can be very high

The other issue with defamation suits is solvency of the defendant. In the example I give, unless the slandering neighbor has money (money in the bank or property other than their home), you may have damages but it may not be worth the trouble since you can not collect.

But if the defendant is solvent (like most newspapers are)? I bet it is worth the time and effort.

It is not even worth "ballpark"...but if he lost his ability to live in the community and associate with his friends and loved ones? If you can prove it was due to the defamation?? Then you have a very good case indeed...I would expect it will more than pay lawyers fees

Defamation cases are complex...you need a lawyer with experience to file...and you have that one year window to file. I would have him talk to a local attorney (one in the town where the paper is) to see about filing this...it sounds like a great case






Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Can I ask why you would suggest an attorney in the town where the paper is?


 


We were thinking of using his family's attorney who is prominent in a larger city where he is now living. I just wonder if it is advantageous with reason to use a local lawyer. I have worked in this community for many years and its a local good ol' boy kind of town.... WIth a couple of attorneys I know well who are always willing to go up against them. Laughing


 


So in your opinion....why a local lawyer?

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
No worries with a different city so long as it is in the same state. You need one licensed in the state to file

I recommend local since they often know the judges...this can help a bit.

But if they are good? That can outweigh any "local" advantage.

So if you have a good lawyer, licensed in your state? I would go with them

P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27127
Experience: 16 yrs. of experience including criminal law.
P. Simmons and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you so much for your helpful information. I will be rating your service as EXCELLENT!


 


Have a super day! And a great weekend!

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