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  1. #1
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Nasty Text Message

    My question involves defamation in the state of: Georgia

    Ok so my friend was rather stupid and sent a nasty text message to his ex girlfriend and her mother from a phone at a Verizon store. Nothing more happened after that.

    Skip to yesterday when he came across someones phone and decided to send a text message along the lines of "I'm coming to you anonymously to tell you there are some pictures circulating facebook of your daughter after a night of drinking. You should confront her" anyway time went by and her mother responded with the name of the phone owner ( how did she get that?) and threw in my friends name accusing him of being involved. She accused him of slander, and defamation of character and stated she would be giving the number to a detective... and that she "filed charges" against the text messages from before.

    So basically, He's calling her bluff on the grounds that if nasty text messages were significant enough of a offense then the jails would be a lot more populated. Needless to say he destroyed the phone.

    He knows it was stupid and immature but wants to know if her threats have any legal backing at all.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    9,085

    Default Re: A Text Message

    Yes, yes they do.

    Depending on what he texted, he may have a huge problem.

    You may also want to tell him that destroying the cell phone did nothing... the records still exist.

    This is akin to destroying the security camera but not looking for the video files.

    Of course, since the phone was "someone's", that means he stole it... and faces charges there as well.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Nasty Text Message

    I would say more like; maybe. There are a lot of details not supplied that can make a world of difference.

    First, you so not say what was in the original text. Simply sending a nasty text is not neccessarily illegal. I can call a person any name I want to and it would not be defamation..

    If I call my ex GF a bitch, I have not defamed her as I do believe she is a bitch. opinion is not defamation.

    if I told my ex's current husband that my GF used to be a hooker, not defamation because she was.

    if I told my ex's husband she gave me HIV and it wasn;t true; defamatory

    (the expamples are not based upon my reality)


    So, depending what was originally texted, it may or may not be defamatory.


    as to informing another about the pic on myspace? IF and only if the pics are defamatory, you may be liable for defamation because you would be guilty of disseminating defamatory information. Again, the truth is not defamatory.

    Now, simply put, people do not go to jail for defamation. They get sued in civil court for damages. Second, the police do not investigate defamation cases which brings up the other possibility.

    some sort or crime such as harassment or other similar crime. Depending on a lot of info not included here, harassment or some other crime could be possible although not likely based on the minimal contact presented here.

    all-in-all I would say mom is bluffing. There is very little, if any way for the original texts to be linked to any specific person. You are speaking about a demo phone that is simply out on display where he texted the origianl message from, right? Very difficult to link your friend to the phone. Too many other possible users.

    as to the second situation; like I said, most likely nothing criminal at all to begin with. If anything, a civil situation but unless those pics were somehow defamatory (as in the legal sense), there is nothing she can do.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Nasty Text Message

    The original text were like "your a bitch" and "your daughters a whore" or something. I mean she was, so thats his opinion.

    The pictures don't exist he was merely trying to get her in trouble with her mother.

    And yes the first phone was at a display store in another city.

    Is there any information you might need?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Nasty Text Message

    . I mean she was, so thats his opinion.
    either it is factual or it is opinion. either one is a defense to defamation if true.

    The pictures don't exist he was merely trying to get her in trouble with her mother.
    then that may be considered defamatory. Since there is no truth to support the inference the daughter was involved with possible illegal acts or definately somethign mom would not be proud of, with no evidence to support the statement, then yes, you friend did defame the girl.

    And yes the first phone was at a display store in another city.
    pretty hard to link such a phone to anybody specific. unless there is a witness, allegations are not enough. (btw; you are a witness to this)



    Is there any information you might need]
    Not anymore. You basically removed the possible doubts I had that would have prevented this guy from getting sued.

    So, there are several things here;

    chances are there is nothing criminal but no guarantees. The daughter is the partt that would have to sue. Defamation suits are not cheap and an attorney is not going to take this on on a contingency basis unless your friend is quite wealthy.

    I would suggest your friend quit acting like an immature kid and try to not do stupid things anymore. I would think mom is raising hell to scare him but the bark is most likely much worse than the bite that possibly could follow. That doesn't mean the next time it will be the same.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Nasty Text Message

    He is not wealthy, nor are they, he's just a college student.

    I imagine not a lot of decent attorneys would be willing to pursue such a charge over a text message and an angry mother. I think she was merely trying to scare him.

    So bottom-line you are saying that its possible things could continue but because of the the cost and no real factual evidence besides a text message from a number that wasn't his, its unlikely they will pursue anything?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Nasty Text Message

    it isn't the text from the store phone but the message from the friends phone that he destroyed. It is linked to this and that one person.

    I doubt anything will come from this simply because it is not financially reasonable to do so.

    That doesn't mean she did not speak with the police and they won;t pay a visit where he could implicate himself in all sort of stupid things but from what you have posted, I doubt there is much to worry about.

  8. #8
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Nasty Text Message

    Well the phone he destroyed, he found. I imagine they got the phone owners name from her voice mail. They may have looked on face book (like that will stand in court) and see that his girlfriend and the owner know each other. But they have no actual relation to each other except face book.

    In fact they don't know each other. Plus he lives 3+ hours away from the mother he texted.

    Does that have any relevance at all?

  9. #9
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    Jun 2008
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    Default Re: Nasty Text Message

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    either it is factual or it is opinion. either one is a defense to defamation if true.
    Not intending to digress, just wanted a clarification...

    Words like 'whore' have two meanings. Either a 'lady of loose morals' or a 'prostitute'. The former is an opinion that is difficult to prove or disprove. The latter is an absolute yes/no that you can prove/disprove in court.

    At what point does the literal definition of an insult win out over the slang definition? And who makes the call?

    I'd assume that is it up to the judge/jury, but do they make that decision based upon:
    A) The common understanding of the words and the potential harm
    or
    B) Their understand of the intent of the person uttering the words, based upon the evidence provided?


    For example:
    Bitch: "Female Dog" or "Unpleasant female" < A reasonable person would accept the slang definition, which is an opinion and therefore probably not actionable
    Chester: "Child Molester" or "Creepy guy who looks like a child molester" < Could go either way.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Nasty Text Message

    At what point does the literal definition of an insult win out over the slang definition?
    I don't see wither definition as slang. I can support either as an accepted definition but anyway, it is part of the process of the court action to make the call. Often, whatever the person that heard the term believes it to be is the definition of concern.

    And who makes the call?
    judge/jury



    I'd assume that is it up to the judge/jury, but do they make that decision based upon:
    A) The common understanding of the words and the potential harm
    or
    B) Their understand of the intent of the person uttering the words, based upon the evidence provided?
    the intent is less important that what the listener percieved it as. That is where the slander comes in so what the listener recieved it as is what is of concern.

    For example:
    Bitch: "Female Dog" or "Unpleasant female" < A reasonable person would accept the slang definition, which is an opinion and therefore probably not actionable
    bitch, unless you are in the dog circles, is almost always seen as a derogatory term for a female. It is also an opnion, not a factual matter.


    Chester: "Child Molester" or "Creepy guy who looks like a child molester" < Could go either way.
    yes it could and the plaintiff is going to say that a "creepy guy that looks like a child molester" is an inference that the guy is a molester and the defendant is going to have to defend that. I would not want to be the defendent in that arguement as I do see it as an inference. This is not neccessarilly an opinion but an inference of a factual matter (either they have molested a child or they haven;t) where calling a person a bitch is a matter of my interpretation of what a bitch is so it becomes merely opinion.

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