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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 13884
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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I live in Mississippi and an acquaintance called me last night about some issues I've

Customer Question

I live in Mississippi and an acquaintance called me last night about some issues I've had with someone we both know. Am I liable for what was said over the phone if that acquaintance recorded my conversation? I heard tonight that the mutual acquaintance was pressing charges against me(assume it is related to contents of that call).
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question.
I am assuming that some of what was said was disparaging in nature? If so, there may be a claim for civil damages for defamation of character, but defamation isn't a criminal matter, so there are no charges that could be pressed. Also, an individual actually cannot press charges (though they make it seem that way on tv and in movies). The filing of criminal charges is a decision left to the state through the prosecutor's office. If you had done something criminal, there would be a basis to file a police report, but that's not the same as filing charges.
As far as recording the conversation, Mississippi is a "one party consent state", meaning if one party to the conversation consents to the recording (such as your friend who called you) it is not unlawful -even if you didn't have knowledge the call was recorded.
With respect to defamation of character, Mississippi adheres to the common-law definition of defamation of character. Defamation, slander, and libel are viewed as statements meant to injure a person’s reputation or business. According to Mississippi state statutes, defamation, libel, and slander, “are considered as insults, and calculated to lead to a breach of the peace.” Such communication must be made to a third party without the consent or knowledge of the defamed person or business.
Truth is always a defense to a defamation claim. So, for example, if you were to say to someone "Steve is such a drunk, he can't even handle his job at work" isn't defamation if Steve is in fact an alcoholic and has trouble handling his job.
Even where statements may not be truthful, and may just be false statements, in order to be successful, a person suing for defamation has to prove that they suffered damages. Damages doesn't mean merely hurt feelings or anger; it means genuine losses for which a court can compensate a person. So, if a false statement was made by you about this individual and it got back to his boss who then fired him from his $100,000 a year job as a result, there are arguable damages. For the average individual, damages are minimal, if they exist at all, so many lawyers won't even take the case.
If you have further questions or need follow-up information, please use the REPLY feature, I'll be happy to assist. Thank you.