Malice

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Legal Definition and Related Resources of Malice

Meaning of Malice

In a general sense, the term denotes ill-will, a preconceived design of doing mischief or harm to another, bad faith, evil motive , wanton or reckless disregard of rights of others. Also, denotes the wrongful act done intentionally without just cause or excuse . See state v Booth, (Mo.App.) 515 S. W.2d 586. In the law of defamation the claim of qualified privilege by a defendant will be defeated by showing malice on his part, and in this context, the term denotes a state of mind arising from hatred or ill-will evidencing a willingness to vex, annoy or injure and that the publication of the defamatory statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. See Dietrich v Litton Industries Inc., 90 Cal.Rptr. 856, 12 C.A.3d 704. In the law of homicide , the term is one of art and means not only hatred, ill-will or spite, but also that condition of mind which prompts a person to take the life of another intentionally without cause , excuse or justification . May also exist , in the absence of such intent, where one engages in commission of an act dangerous to human life in wanton and wilful disregard of unreasonable risk that death or serious bodily harm may result. See People v Till, 263 N. W.2d 586, 80 Mich. App. 16. In relation to second-degree murder the term has been interpreted to indicate an intent to cause the very harm that results or some harm of same general nature, or an act done in wanton or wilful disregard of plain and strong likelihood that some such harm will result. See People v Geiger, 159 N. W.2d 383, 10 Mich. App. 339. The term has also been defined as consisting either of express intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, or of a wickedness of disposition , hardness of heart, cruelty , recklessness of consequences and a mind regardless of social duty indicating unjustified disregard for the probability of death or great bodily harm and an extreme indifference to value of human life. See Com. v Chermansky, 242 A.2d237, 430 Pa. 170.

Malice Alternative Definition

In Crimes. In its broadest legal sense, the term is substantially synonymous with “criminal intent,” and means the state of mind of a person, irrespective of his motive, whenever he consciously violates the law. In this sense, every person who is sui juris, and who, without justification or excuse, willfully does an act which is prohibited and made punishable by law as a crime, does the act maliciously. 1 Clark & Marshall, Crimes, 139. Malice, in its legal sense, characterizes all acts done intentionally with an evil disposition, a wrong and unlawful motive and purpose; the willful doing an injurious act without lawful excuse. 9 Mete. (Mass.) 93, or just cause, 194 Mich. 197; 4 B. & C. 255; 107 Mich. 215. Malice implies not only willfulness, but an absence of lawful excuse. 12 Fla. 117. In relation to particular crimes, the term is sometimes used in a narrower sense. Thus, as applied to the offense of malicious mischief, it implies a sense of resentment or ill will towards the owner of the property injured. 3 Cush. (Mass.) 558. Malice is either express or implied. Express malice is actual malice, and exists where a person actually contemplates the injury or wrong which he inflicts. Implied malice, otherwise called “constructive malice,” or “malice in law,” is that which is imputed by the law from the nature of the act done, irrespective of the actual intent of the party. See 10 N. Y. 120. In Torts. Generally, malice implies no more than an absence of legal excuse (4 Wend. [N. Y.] 13) ; a mind not sufflciently cautious before it inflicts injury upon another (11 Serg. & R. [Pa.] 39) ; but in some connections, as, for example, to authorize the allowance of punitive damages, there must be either actual ill will, or a wanton disregard of consequences (37 Mich. 34; 77 111. 280). Malice, to render one liable in punitive damages, contemplates not merely an injurious act, but an act conceived in a spirit of mischief, or of willful indifference to civil obligations. See 91 U. S. 489. Specific ill will is not essential (27 Mo. 28) ; but a general wanton desire to annoy is sufficient to constitute malice (2 Hilt. [N. Y.] 40).

Synonyms of Malice

noun

  • acrimony
  • active ill will
  • animosity
  • animus
  • antagonism
  • antipathy
  • aversion
  • bad intent
  • bad intention
  • bitter animosity
  • conscious violation of law
  • contempt
  • culpable recklessness
  • detestation
  • disaffection
  • dislike
  • enmity
  • evil disposition
  • evil intent
  • hard feelings
  • hardheartedness
  • harmful desire
  • hate
  • hatred
  • hostility
  • ill feeling
  • ill will
  • intentional wrongdoing
  • invidia
  • invidiousness
  • loathing
  • malevolence
  • malevolentia
  • maliciousness
  • malignitas
  • malignity
  • odium
  • personal hatred
  • pique
  • pitilessness
  • rancor
  • rankling
  • repugnance
  • repulsion
  • resentment
  • spite
  • spitefulness
  • umbrage
  • venom
  • viciousness
  • violent animosity
  • wanton disregard
  • wrath
  • Associated Concepts: actual malice
  • constructive malice
  • implied malice
  • legal malice
  • malice aforethought
  • malice in fact
  • malice in law
  • malicious abandonment
  • malicious abuse of process
  • malicious arrest
  • malicious injury
  • malicious intent
  • malicious mischief
  • malicious prosecution
  • malicious use
  • malicious wrong
  • universal maliceforeign phrases: In criminalibus
  • cum facto paris gradus
  • ln crimes
  • a general malicious intent suffices where there is an act of equal degree
  • Malitia est acida; est mali animi affectus
  • Malice is sour; it is the quality of an evil mind
  • Maleficia propositis distinguuntur
  • Evil deeds are distinguished by their evil purposes
  • Malitiis hominum est obviandum
  • The malicious designs of men must be thwarted
  • Eum qui nocentem infamat
  • non est aequum et bonum ob earn rem condemnari; delicta enim nocentium notaesseoportetetexpedit
  • lt is not just and proper that he who speaks ill of a bad man should be condemned on that account; for it is fitting and expedient that the crimes of bad men be made known
  • Malum non praesumitur
  • Evil is not presumed
  • Malice is sour; it is the quality of an evil mind
  • Maleficia propositis distinguuntur
  • Evil deeds are distinguished by their evil purposes
  • Malitiis hominum est obviandum
  • The malicious designs of men must be thwarted
  • Eum qui nocentem infamat
  • non est aequum et bonum ob earn rem condemnari; delicta enim nocentium notaesseoportetetexpedit
  • lt is not just and proper that he who speaks ill of a bad man should be condemned on that account; for it is fitting and expedient that the crimes of bad men be made known
  • Malum non praesumitur
  • Evil is not presumed

Related Entries of Malice in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

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Malice in Historical Law

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Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Malice in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary. The Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary entries include explanations of the context of abbreviations or acronyms as well as the direct meaning.

Related Legal Terms

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Mentioned in these terms

Absolute Privilege, Fair Comment, Implied Malice, Involuntary Manslaughter, Malicious Prosecution, Manslaughter, Murder, Punitive Damages.

Translate Malice Aforethought from English to Spanish

Translation of Malice Aforethought , with examples. More about free online translation into Spanish of Premeditación y ventaja and other legal terms is available here.

Translate Malice from English to Spanish

Translation of Malice , with examples. More about free online translation into Spanish of Dolo penal and other legal terms is available here.

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This definition of Malice is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

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This entry was last modified: May 12, 2013

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