Defamation of Character May Get Me Evicted...
(Cave Junction, OR USA)
I live in an RV park. In the 5 years I'e been here I have repeatedly been told by the owners that they are getting complaints that I'm selling drugs. I'm always being told that there are complaints of traffic, and people coming to my trailer at all hours of the day and night - not the same people but many different people.
I have never been arrested for selling or doing drugs. There is not a parade of different people who come to my trailer. I have 2 friends who, like myself were bartenders and we keep late hours (they do not come and go). I do leave my trailer at late hours. I give rides to people who've been drinking. If someone calls I do not care what time it is I will go and get them.
I'm starting to stress out about this. I caught myself getting nervous when someone came over to drop off some paperwork and pick up some paperwork I finished for them, and I asked them not to leave for awhile because I did not want the neighbor to think something shady was going on. How long do I keep someone from leaving? It's crazy.
I live in a very small travel trailer with one place to sit other than my bed, so people do not stay long. I have been told by the landlord that if I don't stop what I'm doing I will have to move. What they are hearing is not what is happening but they do not believe me.
I think this is defamation of character and I don't know what to do about it. Any ideas? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Defamation of Character May Get Me Evicted...":
Debra (Cave Junction, OR USA):
Selling illegal narcotics is a felony in most states. It is considered a “Crime of Moral Turpitude”. If someone publicly accuses you of committing a crime of moral turpitude they crossed the invisible, but very real legal line. If this occurred, or occurs in the future you have the grounds for a viable defamation suit against the trailer park.
If they put it in writing, it’s called libel. Defamation is the spoken word, and libel is the written word.
The statement, verbal, or written, must be made to a third party. This means if the landlord just tells only you that you are a drug dealer, that’s not defamation...yet. If she says it to you while someone else is there, that does constitute defamation. Or if she just tells it to another person, whether you are present or not, and it can be verified, that constitutes defamation is well.
If she sends a letter to you accusing you of being a drug dealer, that is not libel. But if she sent the letter to you and you show it to anyone else, that constitutes libel as well. Or if she sends a letter to another person, whether you read it or not, that constitutes libel as well.
Now that you have just experienced law school 101 you need to be aware of something just as important...
That is, if you sold even one illegal narcotic or other illegal drug to even one person, and that sale can be in any manner verified, then your defamation and libel suit goes out the window.
Truth is an absolute defense.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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