Defamation(redirected from Defamation of character)
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in criminal law, a crime against the individual, consisting in the spreading of fabrications known to be false that defame another person. For the act to be deemed defamation, it is necessary that the guilty person know that he is spreading false information intended to damage the victim’s reputation, and it is sufficient that the information be communicated to only one person. Under Soviet law, circumstances aggravating responsibility are the spreading of false defamatory fabrications by a person previously convicted of defamation; the spreading of defamatory fabrications in a printed work or a work reproduced by other means; and the spreading of fabrications known to be false combined with the accusation of commission of a crime against the state or other grave crime.
Defamation is punishable by deprivation of freedom or correctional labor for a term of one year or a fine of 50 rubles, or by imposition of the obligation to make amends for the harm caused, or by public censure. In the event of aggravating circumstances, deprivation of freedom for a five-year term may be applied (for example, Criminal Code of the RSFSR, art. 130). In cases involving defamation without aggravating circumstances proceedings are initiated only on the complaint of the victim and are subject to dismissal in the event of reconciliation with the defendant before the court withdraws to render its judgment. In exceptional instances provided for by law, proceedings may be initiated by the procurator even in the absence of a complaint by the victim. The circulation of true though defamatory information does not constitute a crime under Soviet legislation.